The Jewish Holiday Of Purim
Purim is the Jewish Holiday that commemorates the saving of the Jewish people from a plot to kill them by Haman, a royal minister in the ancient kingdom of Persia. It is a joyous holiday for adults and kids alike but mainly for the kids who dress up and live on a diet of junk food for the day.
If you live near a Jewish community, you probably know about the dressing up and have heard the music blaring.
For those who don’t or want to learn more, here are the five ways Purim is celebrated.
Listening to the book of Esther
The whole story of Purim is transcribed in the book of Esther called the megillah. It is a commandment for everyone to listen to the recital of the megillah. That begins Purim eve. Most people go to the synagogue and listen to the cantor (chazzan) reading it out loud. There is a tradition to make lots of noise whenever the name of Haman the wicked is mentioned and the kids have the best fun waving their ratchet (gragger in Yiddish) around.
Some people eat a small meal after but most just go to bed early to be alert and awake for an action-packed Purim day.
The next morning, the Megillah (Book of Esther) is recited again.
The highlight of Purim day is the dressing up. Kids and adults alike dress up. There are popular costumes like princesses, brides and fancy ladies for the girls and EMT, police and soldiers for the boys.
But some have really creative and original costumes. In our Hasidic community most women don’t dress up, some men do.
The Gift Giving-Mishloach manot
It is customary to give baskets of gifts and food to family and friends. According to Jewish law, each adult must give two foods to at least one person. Most people give way more as it’s already an occasion to give to people we want to thank. Some keep it simple, some dress up their children, unleash their creativity and prepare mishloach manot according to a theme. As my husband works in a fish shop, we usually give a fish platter they can use for the meal.
The Giving Of Charity
Purim is a time to give to the poor. All the local schools send the boys collecting charity for their school. The bell usually doesn’t stop ringing and I have a roll of cents handy to give to those boys. The school gives incentives to whoever raises the most money so they’re all trying their best.
The older boys go collecting by people of means but in order to get the most money out, they come prepared with a little skit, spirited dancing, and some funny speeches. That usually puts people in the mood to give generously.
The Purim Meal
There is one mandatory meal on Purim. Most people eat it evening time as lunch time is usually still hectic with everyone bringing their mishloach manot to people and children going to their teachers at various times of the day. Many people will have spirited meals filled with family and friends. The lonely and the singles are usually invited as to not spend the day alone and sad.
As much as Purim is a joyous day, full of music and fun, it’s also considered a holy day where prayers can be answered. Many will recite the whole book of psalms and pray for those in need of salvation.
I hope you enjoy this glimpse into the wonderful day that is Purim.