Israel celebrates the Mimouna festival originating with North African Jewry starting tonight, lasting through Tuesday.
Mimouna (Hebrew: מימונה Arabic: ميمونة) is a traditional North African Jewish celebration held the day after Passover. It marks the start of spring and the return to eating chametz, i.e., leavened bread and bread by-products, which are forbidden throughout the week of Passover.
Some believe the source of the name is Maimon, the father of the Rambam, Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon, and the Mimouna marks the date of his birth or passing.
The celebration begins after nightfall on the last day of Passover. In many communities, non-Jewish neighbors sell bread products back to Jewish families as a beginning of the celebration. Moroccan and Algerian Jews throw open their homes to visitors, after setting out a lavish spread of traditional holiday cakes and sweetmeats. One of the holiday favorites is Mofletta. The table is also laid with various symbols of luck and fertility, with an emphasis on the number "5," such as five pieces of gold jewelry or five beans arranged on a leaf of pastry.
In Israel, the Mimouna has become a popular annual happening featuring outdoor parties, picnics and BBQs. After settling in Israel, Jewish immigrants from North Africa (Maghrebim) celebrated the Mimouna with their families. In 1966, it was introduced as a national holiday, and has been adopted by other ethnic groups, mainly in the Mizrahi sector.
In 2006, the Moroccan Jewish community of Paris, France, celebrated the holiday publicly for the first time.
The festival has been celebrated by Amsterdam's Moroccan Jewish community for many years. (Wikipedia)