Mishloach Manot Baskets

Written by Patricia Skinner
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Mishloach manot baskets are simply baskets of food prepared as gifts for the Jewish Feast of Purim. Although the term "basket" is nearly always used, any receptacle such as a platter or small tray will suffice for the purpose. The term mishloach manot is Hebrew for "send a portion."

The tradition of giving gifts of food as part of the celebration of Purim arose to remind people of the banquets that Queen Esther gave for her husband, King Achashverosh, and his evil chief advisor, Haman. The banquets were part of her plan to intercede with the King to save the lives of all the Jews, and she was successful. The food is just one part of the joyous tradition of Purim in commemoration of this great event.

Foods for Purim

Only food that is ready to eat can be included in a mishloach manot basket. This can include anything, but is generally interpreted as delicious cakes and sweets and often something to drink, which may be a bottle of juice or a bottle of wine. Dried fruits and chocolate are also often included. You can find mishloach manot baskets containing just about any combination of goodies. Often a special cookie called hamantashen is included in the mix, or they may be given on a platter by themselves. These are triangular, in imitation of Haman's triangular hat, so the story goes.

For those who cannot afford to give gift baskets to all their friends, there is a tradition of contributing to charity on this occasion too. The original contribution was half a shekel. Today the equivalent is three half dollar coins.


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