Maimuna is a celebration held by Maghrebi Jews and many Eastern communities at the end of the last day of Passover which, according to tradition, is the anniversary of the death of Maimonides' father Maimon ben Joseph who lived for a time in Fez.
In every home, tables are set with food and drinks having a symbolic significance, varying according to local custom. These include fresh pitchers of sweet milk, garlands of leaves and flowers, branches of fig trees, and ears of wheat. Usually a live fish (a symbol of fertility) is placed on the table, swimming in a bowl. The menu includes lettuce leaves dipped in honey, buttermilk, and pancakes spread with butter and honey. There is a "lucky dip," a bowl of flour in which golden objects are placed. In some places a plate of flour is set on the table with five eggs and five beans and dates set in it. In Oran, vessels of silver and gold are included in the table decoration. On this night people eat only dairy foods and wafers made of fried dough resembling pancakes, known as muflita. No meat is to be consumed. The Jews visit each other, taking gifts of food.
On the day following the holiday, the actual day of Maimuna, people go out to the fields, cemeteries, or the beaches and organize large social gatherings. In modern Israel Jews of Moroccan extraction celebrate the day after Passover with communal outings and picnics, and a central gathering is held in Jerusalem. The exact meaning of the word Maimuna is unknown. A suggestion that it is connected with the name of Maimun, the king of the jinns, has been questioned by scholars. In an article in Tarbiz (41,2, Jan–March 1972), Y. Einhorn quotes new sources to support his contention that the name Maimuna is, in fact linked with the king of the jinns.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.