Jewish Holiday Purim. Recipe of Purim cookies (hamantashen or Haman's ears).
Purim is my Favorite Holiday from the Jewish Calendar
All holidays of a Jewish calendar are connected with TANACH (what is known as Old Testament by non-Jews). Some of the holidays are strictly religious, others are less. As for our family, some holidays we do celebrate traditionally, some we don't. Purim is our favorite holiday. It is more national, than religious. Actually, it has little to do with the God's help, but It takes its origin in the Bible (TANACH), in the Book of Esther (in the Writings, and, by the way, the God is not mentioned in this story which makes it stand apart). In a way it does represent a miracle. It is the celebration of a great victory of good over evil and our physical survival as a Jewish people.
As a celebration, Purim is a very physical festival, which means that we DO celebrate. We eat sumptuous meals, drink a lot of wine and give lots of presents. Why? You'll see.
To make a long story short....
Persian King Ahasuerus (Achashverosh) gets drunk during a long feast (you will see, it's a lot about getting drunk :-)) and calls his wife Vashti to show her beauty in front of the guests. Vashti refuses to obey his order and the King gets mad and fires her. Then the King searches the country for a new queen. From among hundreds of applicants, Esther, a cousin of Mordechai the Jew, is chosen. In other sources Esther is Mordechai's niece. Esther does not reveal to the King that she is Jewish (her real name is Hadassah).
Once Mordechai happens to overhear the plotters who plot to kill the King and warns Esther. She in her turn warns the King but gives the credit to Mordechai.
The King's Prime Minister (vizier) was an evil man named Haman. He orders everyone to kneel in front of him. Mordechai refuses to do this. Haman, a descendant of the tribe of Amalek, hates the Jews and decides to kill them. He convinces King Ahasuerus to issue an order to destruct all Jews in the empire.
Mordechai pleads with Esther to save the Jewish people by talking to the King. Esther organizes the feast which goes for three days, where everyone gets drunk (you see, it is about getting drunk again:-)). Then at the risk of her own life, Esther appears before the King without being summoned by him. She reveals her own Jewish identity to the King and reveals Haman's evil plans.
The King is outraged at Haman, and he issues a decree to make Haman the victim of his own infamous plot. Haman and his sons are killed, and the Jews are saved.
God is not mentioned, but He is there.
Purim is a classic story of deep-rooted anti-Semitism that aims to wipe the Jews off the face of the earth. The namePurimcomes from the word "Pur", which means “lot” (as in lottery). "Lots" were small pieces of pottery used in games of chance in ancient times.
Seemingly random, accidental events allow a Jewish leader Mordechai and a young Jewish woman Esther to orchestrate a complete turnaround of events leading to destruction of plotters and to the survival of Jewish nation. As it is said in The Book of Esther (9:1) “And it was turned around, the Jews prevailed over their enemies”.
The Book of Esther stands apart from other scriptures because God is not mentioned in it even once, unlike in other scriptures. This is intentional, to teach us a very powerful lesson. All those “random events” were actually hidden miracles. Although sometimes God appears to be “hidden”, we recognize that He controls world events. Nothing is random. In fact, a name Esther in Hebrew means “hidden”, as in “And I will surely hide (“as-thir”) My face on that day….” (Deuteronomy 31:18). That is why during Purim celebrations we “hide” our faces by wearing masks and costumes. The message is clear: God may be hidden, but we know that He is there!
The Purim traditions include:
Sharing of the treats, as you send a plate with some snacks to other people (Mishloach Manot- in Hebrew, or Shalahmones- in Yiddish). I still remember how I laughed when reading a story by Sholom Aleichem (a pseudonym of Shalom Rabinowitz, a hilarious Yiddish writer about two young maids sent with rich plates of "shalachmones" (sent portions) to bring them to their ladies, who were friends. On the way the maids met and decided to try some of the treats. They ended bringing very scarce plates to their ladies and ladies didn't talk to each other for years to come, as each thought that the other was very greedy to send a scarce "shalahmones".
Reading The Book of Esther out loud. Children should make a noise with their graggers (noise makers, "ra'ashanim") every time the name of Hamman is pronounced.
Dressing in colorful costumes and going to the streets. Traditionally, costumes are personages from Esther story, but nowadays, anything will go, the funnier the better.
Adloyada ("Till you can't tell"), a street carnival organized by city halls. The most famous one in Israel takes place in Holon.
Having festive dinners, where one should drink a lot, so much that you can't tell the difference between Mordechai the Jew and Haman. (it was, after all, ALL about getting drunk)
Purim shpiel, special Purim performances performed on stages, at home in companies, in the streets.
Eating special triangle cookies, Haman's ears, or Hamentashes in Yiddish. Actually, Purim celebration menu does not have to be special besides the desert, these cookies. The Purim menu includes fish dishes, soups and wine. There's a dish called "Kreplach", which are small squares of pasta dough with filling of ground beef or chicken folded into triangles. They can be boiled and served in soup or fried and served as a side dish. However, here I am going to show the special Purim cookie, Hamentash.
Purim cookies recipe
As Jewish people joke, their holidays are about eating; "They tried to kill us. We survived. Now let's eat!"
Hamantashen is a triangular-shaped, filled pastry which is traditionally served on Purim. My favorite filling is poppy seeds, though you can use any kind of pie filling.
The cookies are often called "Hamantashen" which means "Haman's pockets" in Yiddish. Some say that Haman wore a three-cornered hat, and that is why the cookie is triangular.
In Hebrew, the pastry is called "Oznei Haman" which means Haman's ears. This name may have come from the tale which says that when Haman entered the King's treasury, he was bent over with shame and humiliation (literally with clipped ears).
- 1 1/2 cups butter or margarine, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 6 tablespoons orange juice
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 (12 ounce) can poppy seed filling
- In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the orange juice and vanilla. Mix in the baking powder, and then gradually stir in the flour until the dough forms a ball. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into 3 inch circles using a cookie cutter or drinking glass. Place circles on the prepared cookie sheets. Spoon 1 teaspoon of filling onto the center of each circle. (Any more and it will ooze out) Pinch the sides of each circle to form a triangle, covering as much of the filling as possible. The cookies may be frozen on the cookie sheets if desired to help retain their shape while cooking.
- Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until light golden brown. These are best undercooked slightly. Cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.
Here is another version by my dear friend, please, follow the link.
2010: February 28 (Sun)
2011: March 20 (Sun)
2012: March 8 (Thurs)
2013: February 24 (Sun)
2014: March 16
2015: March 5
2016: March 24
Some facts of interest about Purim
Purim is celebrated on the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the Hebrew lunar month of Adar. This year, 2009, it is on March 10th (begins on sunset of March 9th)
The name Purim comes from the word "Pur", which means lot (as in lottery). "Lots" were small pieces of pottery used in games of chance in ancient times.
Purim will be celebrated for ever, as even The Talmud tells us that Purim will be celebrated even after the Mashiach (Messiah) comes, but other holidays will not, as there will be no reason for them. http://www.tfdixie.com/parshat/tetzaveh/005.htm
In every generation there is another Haman, out to destroy the Jewish nation. Whether it is Hitler or Ahmadinejad (and the list goes on), those who curse Israel are doomed to destruction. And those, who bless Israel will forever be blessed. (Genesis 12:3)
Israel will survive and prosper- this is the true celebration of Purim.