Purim is a Jewish holiday from Persia
Purim is a celebration of freedom! The story was recorded in what we call the Megillah, aka, the Book of Esther (dated 5th century BCE). It lasts only one day, it is celebrated between February and March. The date depends on the Hebrew Lunar Calendar. In 2022, it falls on March 17th. It is not a religious holiday, it celebrates freedom.
King Xerxes the Great, was the fourth King of Kings of the Achaemenid Empire, ruling from 486 to 465 BC. He chose Esther as his new Queen not knowing that Esther was Jewish. Mordecai her cousin, advised her to change her Jewish name of Hadassah to the Persian name of Esther to protect herself. Haman was the king’s advisor and had issued a decree to have all the Jewish families killed on the 14 day of Adar in the Hebrew calendar.
Queen Esther prayed for many nights to learn how to save her people. Finally, she asked the king and Haman to a banquet at her quarters, there she asked King Xerxes to protect her and her people and, she revealed then that she was Jewish and that Haman was planning to exterminate her people, including her. King Xerxes became enraged and ordered Haman to hang. The problem was that the decree Haman issued could not be canceled, so King Xerxes allowed Mordecai and Esther to write another decree that Jewish people may defend themselves against those who might attack them. And so, on the 14 day of Adar, 75,000 of the Jewish peoples’ enemies were killed and Mordecai [Queen Esther’s cousin]became the position of second in rank to King Xerxes and instituted an annual commemoration of the delivery of the Jewish people from annihilation.
In the book of Esther [the Megillah], there are commandments decreed by Queen Esther to celebrate this holiday:
“they should make this day of feasting and gladness, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor”.
- Exchanging gifts of food and drink, known as mishloach manot
- Donating charity to the poor, known as mattanot la-evyonim
- Eating a celebratory meal, known as se’udat Purim
- Public recitation (“reading of the megillah“) of the Scroll of Esther, known as kriat ha-megillah, usually in the synagogue or at home.
- Reciting additions to the daily prayers and the grace after meals, known as Al HaNissim
Other customs include wearing masks and costumes, public celebrations and parades (Adloyada), and eating hamantashen cookies ( ”Haman’s pockets”); men are encouraged to drink wine or any other alcoholic beverage.
Books about Purim you might want to read or gift.
Purim foods and activity books you might like to cook or gift.