The triangular pocket cookie baked by Jewish families spanning the globe for the holiday of Purim has several names, hamantaschen is the name used in the United States, and I'm assuming by most of the Ashkenazic Jews living outside of Israel. Oznei Haman, on the other hand is the name used in Israel, and by Jews of Israeli or Sephardic descent living outside of Israel (I'm assuming.)
I was hoping to find some definitive information about the origins of this famous cookie, but instead ended up realizing that the history of the Jewish people is so old and so very complex at times, that I have decided for the moment to be happy knowing that this cookie, no matter what it is called is an important reminder to the Jewish people of the miracle which we celebrate on Purim. A miracle I might add that happened 2, 372 years ago, and is still being celebrated today with great fervor! We the Jews don't take the saving of our people lightly.
Oznei Haman, means Haman's ears, and refers to the fact that:
- Haman's ears were "mekutafot", namely looked this cookie (?) when he entered the palace of Achashveirosh (The King). Sorry we couldn't find anyone to define mekutafot for us, it is not a common word.
- The evil Haman's ears were removed before he was hanged for plotting wrongly against the Jews, incidently on the same wooden framework that he had prepared for Mordechai.
Hamantaschen, which means hamans pocket refer to:
- the fact that the cookie is a pocket for the filling within, and its triangular shape reflects the shape of hamans hat. Still not sure myself if it was triangular like George Washington's hat or triangular on end? This was the explanation I grew up with.
- The three corners represent the three forefathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and it is in their merit that the Jews were save. Tash in Hebrew means overcome, so hamantaschen means that Haman was overcome in the merit of the three forefathers.
Additionally, I read that the triangular shape of the cookie resembles the Egyptian dice that Haman may have used for the casting of lots regarding the fate of the Jewish people. (Purim is the plural of the word pur, which means lots in Persian) For a very brief account of the history of Purim, click here, and get your dose of history for the day!
What I would really like to know is when did Jews start baking this cookie? Anyone out there have any information?