(The short version) Purim is a Jewish holiday celebrating the deliverance of the Jewish people as told in the book of Esther. The story is set in the ancient Persian empire. Haman (the royal vizier to the King, Ahasuerus) plotted to kill all the Jews in the empire. His plan was spoiled by Mordecai and Queen Esther (Mordecai's adopted daughter).
Now, we celebrate the saving of the Jewish people by doing several things:
1. We give gifts of food to others (mishloach manot)
2. We give charity to the poor
3. We share a Purim meal
4. We read/listen to the megillah (the scroll of Esther)
Purim is a really fun holiday (a "minor" Jewish holiday since it is not prescribed by the Torah). During the megillah reading we have noise makers (called groggers) and whenever Haman's name is spoken, we drown it out so it cannot be heard using the noisemakers, stamping our feet, or "boo"ing loudly. Many dress up in costumes, kids especially. There have been many reasons for why we dress up but one I was told was that since this is a holiday for the giving of charity, we dress up to preserve anonymity of the giver and the dignity of the recipient.
Many Jewish holidays can be summed up in three simple phrases:
They tried to kill us
Food is always a part of Jewish tradition and Purim, as with the other holidays, is associated with a few foods. My kids' favorite? Hamentashen! They are cookies in the shape of a triangular hat with a soft filling. The most traditional filling is poppy seed. We made several this year. Poppy seed, raspberry, apricot and almond. YUM!
|Some of our apricot hamentashen, just before baking.|
Now that Purim is over, we begin the process of cleaning the house of chametz (anything made from 5 grains that are not permitted to be owned or eaten during Pesach).
Be on the lookout, as it gets closer to Pesach (more commonly known as Passover), I will post more about Pesach preparations and all the intricacies associated with it (and they are numerous! LOL).