Hamantaschen

Different Jewish communities have special foods they prepare for Purim, Hamantaschen are by far the most well known.  read more

How did hamantaschen become the most popular dish of the holiday?

The most widely accepted theory is that it’s a mistake. In Germany – home of the triangular, filled hamantaschen – they enjoyed “Mohntaschen” poppy seed pockets pastries popular since medieval times. With the years, the name changed to “Hamantaschen” or Haman’s pockets.

So the origin of the name is clear, but those triangular pockets do not really resemble an ear – so why exactly do they symbolize the ears of this evil one? One explanation says that originally, the cookies symbolized Haman’s hat – a three-cornered officer’s hat, similar to Napoleon’s.

Other researchers believe that the disturbing custom of eating ears was actually borrowed from the Christians. “Judas Ear” or by its scientific name Auricularia auricula-judae is a fungus that grows on tree trunks with a creepy resemblance to a human ear. According to legend, after handing Jesus over to the authorities, Judas Iscariot hanged himself on a tree, and the tree grew mushrooms in the shape of his ears. These mushrooms were apparently eaten at the “Good Friday” meal before Easter, and were later replaced by stuffed triangular cookies.

According to another lesser known story, evil Haman, whose ears we eat, was actually a German baker. Vincent Fettmilch was the head of the bakers’ guild in Frankfurt, who saw himself as the “new Haman”. In 1614, Fettmilch led the professional guilds in the city in an uprising against the new emperor. Among other things, he demanded to reduce the number of Jews in the city and to lower the interest rate charged by Jews on money loans. After the emperor’s death, Fettmilch led a pogrom among the city’s Jews and they fled from it. Two years later, a few days before Purim, Emperor Matthias ordered Vincent Fettmilch to be hanged – and some say that before he was hanged, his ears were cut off. The story was recorded in a text that was named “Magilat Vinz” and was celebrated in the Jewish community of Frankfurt as a second Purim.

Even if the exact origin of the custom is under dispute, one fact is not – hamantaschen are the shinning stars of mishloach manot. Here you will find recipes for hamantaschen of many types – from classic poppy seed hamantaschen, through kid approved American Hamantaschen, to vegan hamantaschen.