Mesopotamia, the Cradle of Festive Cookies, and the Quest for the Meaning and Identity of Kleicha

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Delights from the Garden of Eden

Delights from the Garden of Eden

By Nawal Nasrallah

Published 2019

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Muslims make kleicha for the two major religious feasts. ‘Id al-Fitr, a three-day feast, celebrates the end of the fasting month of Ramadhan. It begins with the appearance of the new moon. The second is ‘Id al-Adhha, a four-day feast celebrating the end of the pilgrimage rites in Mecca. Iraqi Christians bake kleicha for Christmas and Easter Sunday, which celebrate the birth and resurrection of Christ, respectively. Easter usually falls on the first Sunday after the first appearance of the full moon following March 20. Jewish Iraqis used to bake it for the joyous festival of Purim, which occurs on the 14th day of Adar, usually in March. They called it ba’ba’ bit-tamigh (date-filled balls). It was stuffed with dates and made into a rounded disc by pressing it into a wooden mold.