Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Not a TWD. Instead, we celebrate Purim

Purim is a fun Jewish holiday. It's a celebration of a triumph. To help celebrate, the Jews are commanded to eat, drink, and share what we have with gifts of food and drink. I'm sharing our hamentaschen fest.

Here's a nutshell version of the Purim story. By the way, this is stolen word for word from Yael of Yael's Yummies. Her version is succinct and explains it well.

Tuesday is the Jewish holiday of Purim. "Pur" in Hebrew, means "lots" or "lottery". The holiday celebrates the bravery of Queen Esther and how she saved the Jewish people from the evil Haman (an advisor to the king) in Persia in the city of Shushan. He decided to do away with the Jews and drew "lots" to decide which day would be their doomsday. Queen Esther found out about his plan and basically ratted on him to the king (who up until that time didn't even know she was Jewish). Long, complicated story, but in short, she saved the day. The date that was originally chosen for the Jews to be destroyed , now became a day of celebration. It is a joyful, fun holiday , especially for children, who dress in costumes and parade around the city . The story of Queen Esther is read in synagogues throughout the world. It is a tradition that every time the name of Haman is mentioned, children and adults alike, shake noisemakers in the air, yell and shout, so as to drown out his evil name.

Side note: The story of Purim is called the Megillah. So if you've ever heard anyone talk about "the whole Megillah", it comes from reading the whole Purim story.

Anyway, on to the hamentaschen. Hamentaschen are filled sugar cookies that are traditionally served on Purim. The cookies are three cornered and meant to mimic Hamen's hat. At least that's what I was taught in Sunday School. There are other stories out there.

For the past four years, we've had hamentaschen baking parties. This year we had four five-year-olds and five eight-year-olds come to help us form the cookies. Traditionally, the cookies are filled with poppy or prune fillings. At our house we use chocolate chips, swirled chocolate chips, apricot jam, and raspberry jam. Any and all combinations of said ingredients can be used. One of the girl's friends has an egg allergy, so this is the recipe that I used.

It's a fun afternoon. I'm pretty sure that the kids ate as many chips as they put into the cookies. There was lots of giggling and messes, and it was just as it should be.

Here's a representative sampling of our goodies. The cookies turned out well this year. This just might be the recipe that I keep using, even if we no longer have an egg allergy.

The other TWD bakers made a lovely Lemon Cup Custard chosen by Bridget of The Way the Cookie Crumbles. Check out her blog for the recipe. I'll be back next week with a yummy looking cake.


n.o.e said...

Your hamentaschen look fabulous! I love the way those 3 corners turn out in the finished cookies. It all sounds like a fun time with all the children. Thanks for sharing all the information about Purim.

Marthe said...

I've never had hamentaschen, but they look soo cute. Your kids did a great job!!

Cathy said...

Your goodies look wonderful! It sounds like you all had a really fun afternoon. And I enjoyed learning about Purim!

Sabrina said...

I LOVE hamentaschen!!! There is a store that sells it near my house and I always go buy some for a little treat! YUM!!
Thanks for sharing! Great job!

Flourchild said...

Thank you for the history lesson on Purim. I love the looks of those cookies!

Shari@Whisk: a food blog said...

I'd love a chocolate one. I've never tasted hamentaschen, but they look fabulous. Thanks for explaining Purim!

Spike said...

nice hamentaschen!

Maria said...

Never tried that before, better add it to my list!

Lauren said...

After looking at your post, I have guilt for not doing hamentaschen. Thanks for your comments. Maybe later or tomorrow I'll bake them. Happy Purim!

pinkstripes said...

I'm going to have to try these cookies. I've never had one before. Thanks for sharing the story of Purim.

Megan said...

Thanks for the history lesson. My husband is Jewish (I'm not), but he doesn't know about the holidays or what they mean. I'll ask him tonight about the cookies and see if he knows what they represent. Then I'll impress him with my knowledge!

Kayte said...

What a great post...I love reading all these kinds of things. Your cookies look really great also!

~3 Sides of Crazy~ said...

I definitely like these better than the lemon cup. I love the lesson too. Thanks for the knife advice, I will look for the Forschners (I've never heard of them). I'm not fond of my Henckels at all, those are mostly what I want to replace.

Justine said...

oooh these look tasty! it's been to long since i had one!

~3 Sides of Crazy~ said...

Thanks for the site - interesting write up on the knives. The next time I'm in the city (live in the sticks right now - can't wait to get out of here) I will check them out.

Gabe's Girl said...

Wow, I love these Purim blogs I am reading lately. I really need to try the hamentaschen.

Michele said...

Thanks for sharing one of your traditions! It sounds like you had a lovely day. Your hamentaschen look amazing.

farah said...

These look great! I've never had hamentaschen before but now i'd really like to try :)

Jacque said...

Thanks for the story. I always enjoy learning about other cultures.

Your cookies look wonderful. I've often seen the prune filling made by Solo in the baking aisle and have wondered what it is used for. Now I know!

lainie said...

Yummm. Those look tasty! This year we went for a cream-cheese based dough. LIfe is good.

April said...

Yay for hamentaschen! The raspberry filled ones are my favorite kind. I meant to try to make some this year but I didn't get around to it.

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