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Monday, February 11, 2013


Francisco de Zurbaran's 
"The Circumcision" (of Christ)
Heb milah or brit milah (“the covenant of circumcision”) Eng circumcision.  A festival celebrated on the first of January in remembrance of the circumcision of Christ.

The oldest known practice is Egyptian. It was performed on boys to denote their entrance into adulthood or becoming warriors. The oldest documentary evidence is from the sixth dynasty (2345–2181 BC) tomb in which the ceremony is depicted on the walls. It is said that Egyptians were circumcised for hygiene and cleanliness.

Jewish boys customarily are circumcised eight days after birth. The tradition dates to Genesis 17:23:27 which relates that Abraham circumcised himself and all males were told to be circumcised as a sign of the covenant that God establishes with the people of Israel. In Jewish society, it is performed by a mohel who has been specially trained in the technique of circumcision and who has received rabbinic recognition.  In the Middle Ages, it was performed in the synagogue. Today it is performed in the home.  This is done during the day and a midday meal is offered to guests who come to witness the ceremony. Until the 13th C the mother held the child’s legs during the operation. Since then that has been the job of the godfather as women were not allowed to enter the part of the synagogue where the ceremony was performed. 

Preparing the Batter
for Poppy Seed Honey Cake
Photo by: Lord-Williams
The Friday after the birth of a son or the night before he is circumcised friends go to the home of the parents and celebrate a dinner for which beans and peas are made. In other ceremonies boiled chickpeas are served.  Also in these celebrations, popped seed honey cake, other cakes and sweets are offered. Jewish women are not circumcised.

The Koran does not demand circumcision but it was the common practice to circumcise Islamic boys between the ages of 2-14. The majority of boys circumcised today are seven years old.  Girls could be circumcised, which consists of excising the clitoris. Today, it is common to have it done in the hospital where the baby is born if at all.  The religion does not designate any particular individual to perform the operation. Following the operation there was a celebration and a special banquet. Menus varied according to the cultural, geographical and social situations of the celebrants.

Christians do not necessarily believe in circumcision. The Apostle Paul preached that faith in Jesus was the only requirement for salvation; that faith was more important than foreskin.

[Benavides-Barajas. Alhambra. 1999:54; Ency Judaica. 2007: BLU-COF:VOL 4:”CIRCUMCISION”: 730-735;  Ency of Judaism. 2000;Vol 1:a-I:”circumcision”:89-95; Espasa. 1988:13:CL-COLD:400-404; and Weekes.1984:I:41]


Slowly Baking in the Oven
Photo by: Lord-Williams

2 c flour
1 ½  tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt to taste
4 eggs
1 c brown sugar
½ c vegetable oil
2 oranges
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ nutmeg
¼ ginger scraping
¼ c poppy seeds
1 c honey


Too Delicious to Wait for Ceremonies!
Photo by: Lord-Williams

Mix flour, baking powder and salt.

Beat the eggs. Gradually add the sugar. Continue beating until light and fluffy. Add the oil and continue beating.

Slowly add the flour mixture alternating it with the juice from the oranges (about 1 c).  Add half the poppy seeds,  zest from ½ an orange (about 2 tbsp), spices and mix well.  

Grease a cake tin and sprinkle with flour. Pour the batter into it.

Bake 1 hour or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Stick the top several times with the end of a ballpoint pen. Let cool about 10 minutes and remove the cake from the tin. Bring the honey to a boil, skim it and pour it over the top and sides of the cake until all the syrup is absorbed.  Let cool and serve.

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