What is Purim?

The Jewish holiday of Purim is full of feasting and fun. Learn about this holiday’s history and its traditions from reading the Megillah to sharing food with friends!

Religious or not, many people have heard the word Purim even if they’re not aware of what it means. This is one of the most festive celebrations there are in the Hebrew calendar! Based on Persia’s history, the Purim festival celebrates the uprising of the Jewish people against those who would hurt them. For those who celebrate the holiday, it represents a day of family and rest. Share your tips about this celebration with others on your favorite family app.

What is Purim?

Purim is a festive holiday that commemorates the prevention of a massacre of the Jewish people. The Purim story begins in the 4th Century BC when Persia ruled over the lands where the Jewish people lived. King Ahasuerus and his wife Queen Vashti reigned over the region. But one night she refused to appear at a royal banquet, so Ahasuerus banished her from the palace. His next wife became a stunningly gorgeous Jewish orphan named Esther. While he was overcome by her tremendous beauty, he was unaware of her heritage, and the fact that she was the cousin of the Jewish leader, Mordecai. 

Haman, an antisemitic man, was Prime Minister of the area, and irate that Mordecai refused to bow to him. As a result, Haman had the King order the extermination of the Jews on the 13th of Adar. So Esther used her power and position to save her people. She invited King Ahasuerus and Haman to a 3-day feast after which he granted her a request of anything in the kingdom. Then she revealed Haman’s plot to destroy her and the Jewish people and asked the king to reverse Haman’s decree. 

The next day, Haman was hung on the gallows he designed for Mordecai, and Mordecai was made Prime Minister. Afterward, the King issued a decree that Jews could defend themselves against their enemies, and they rose to victory.  

Mosaic of Queen Esther Purim heroine

Esther, mosaic, The Church of Hagia Maria Zion-The Dormition Church, Jerusalem

When is Purim?

Named after the word for “lots” because it was chosen by lottery, Purim is celebrated on the 14th of Adar. Adar is the 6th month of the civil year and the 12th month of the ecclesiastical year in the Hebrew Calendar. The 13th of Adar signifies the day the Jewish people battled their enemies.

On the following day, the Jewish people celebrated their victory with a day of rest. The holiday of Purim 2020 begins on the evening of Monday, March 9th and continued to Wednesday, March 11th. In Jerusalem, Israel, this holiday will occur on March 12th.  

How Do Jewish People Celebrate the Holiday of Purim?

There are various ways to celebrate this fun and colorful holiday. Many people dress up in Purim costumes to celebrate God’s hand in the event. Its focus is four main mitzvahs or deeds of religious duty. Share your own Purim activities with others on FamilyApp!

  • Listen to the Megillah – Known as The Book of Esther, this tells the story of the entire history of the holiday. You’ll all have fun when you get to stamp your feet or use Purim rattlers to block out the sound when you hear Haman’s name
  • Food for Friends – In addition to giving to those who are less fortunate, Purim also expects that we give to our friends. These gifts often contain ready-to-eat items and a beverage, and they should be delivered by someone other than the sender.
  • Give to Charity – Because the Purim meaning is about the unity of the Jewish people, they prioritize giving back. This means that you should give food or money to at least two in-need people. You can even go to your local synagogue for donations there.
  • The Purim Meal – No Jewish holiday is complete without great food, and this one is no exception. Family and friends can gather to cook before sundown to share a meal of meat, wine and bread alongside Jewish songs. A famous Purim food is hamantashen (Haman’s bags), a sweet triangular pastry filled with poppy seeds.

Celebrate Purim

With feasting and friends, Purim is the favorite holiday in the Jewish calendar to many. People of all faiths can share in the celebrations and many traditions that make up the 14th of Adar! Have you celebrated this holiday and do you have any traditions to share? Let us know in the comments! This is a wonderful holiday that inspires a love for community and faith like Purim!

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Josh MillerAuthor posts

Josh Miller

Josh is an avid outdoorsman and approaches his writing with a sense of passion and adventure. He loves watersports, but hates gyms. You can often see him and his family biking along the Virginia Beach boardwalk.

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