Easter - Ramadan Celebration during National Arab American Heritage Month
BY: Lily Karam / Arab America Contributing Writer
In celebration of Easter and Ramadan coinciding on this year’s calendar, Palestine Foundation had a nostalgic traditional maamoul baking day for members of the Mawtini Choir and their families.
The Arab American community, Christians and Muslims, wanted to re-live their cultural traditions at home-away-from-home and pass such beautiful practices to their children and grandchildren through this holiday season. This season in April also happens to coincide with our collective celebration in the US of the Arab American Heritage Month.
The maamoul baking social event that took place on 9 April involved lent food, soup, and other traditional foods and sweets prepared, specifically by participating families for iftar. The children, ranging in age from 4 to 14 years, were introduced to the buttery semolina dough and sweet date paste. Then, they selected their favorite decorative molds and tweezers and got to work while chatting and giggling, to the delight of watching parents, each recording a video, of course.
Following the baking, the children shared their created cookies with each other just like families do back in the Arab world. Lily Karam, Palestine Foundation president, and event host proclaimed “these maamoul cookies are the best and most flavorful cookies made because they were made by our children.”
During the event, California-based Palestinian author of children’s books, Wafa Shami, joined virtually and read her book, Easter in Ramallah, to the attentive and fascinated children.
No traditional event is complete without music, and given that this was the Mawtini Choir, there was plenty of talent. After a scheduled rehearsal and individual instrument lessons, the group enjoyed performances from children beaming with smiles and energy as they prepare for an upcoming concert.
Mawtini Choir is a joint children’s project of Palestine Foundation and SAWA Southern California. It is directed by Sami Asmar with the participation of local world-class music instructors Hasan Minawi, Souhail Kaspar, and Nasser Musa. The more than a dozen talented members receive vocal and instrumental training, Arabic language pronunciation, and song translation, and learn many other cultural traditions. They enjoy social events as their own small community with organizational leadership by the children themselves, as part of the many choir objectives.
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