SUNSET SATURDAY, MARCH 11: Happy Purim!
Purim may be a relatively minor holiday in the Jewish year, but there’s no question: It’s fun!
Jews end the Fast of Esther tonight and feast, masquerade and drink for the joyous festival, recalling Queen Esther and the victory she managed to pull off for the Jewish people in the face of the Persian Empire’s crushing power. Because they were saved from destruction and won over their foes, Jews celebrate gaily and throw parties for adults and children alike. The masks and costumes associated with Mardi Gras are echoed in Purim’s customs as celebrants dress up to symbolize God’s “hidden presence” in the events of the Book of Esther.
‘BLOTTING OUT’ HAMAN: STOMPS, NOISEMAKERS & POCKET TREATS
Purim day begins with a reading of the Book of Esther, which is often done publicly in the synagogue. As the evil Haman’s name is read—which occurs 54 times—Jews stomp their feet and rattle noisemakers, to “blot out” his name. Some Jews even write Haman’s name on the bottom of their shoes, so as to literally stomp on his name!
Following services, the faithful share food with one another and partake in a feast. One particular food exchanged on Purim is Hamantaschen, “Haman’s pockets,” which consists of sweet pastry filled with prunes or poppy seeds. In the jovial nature of Purim, adults are required to drink until many can’t tell the difference between “cursed by Haman” and “blessed be Mordecai.”
Traditional Purim costumes reflect the various roles in the story of Esther. However, as Jewish organizations continue to make merry on this ancient holiday, new ideas arise—including cultural themes that tie Purim with the 21st century: themes like Harry Potter, “Star Wars” and Marvel superheroes have gained popularity in recent years.