As I’m sure many Jews will tell you, Purim is one of the most fun festivals to grace the Jewish Calendar. The festival takes place around March time this year and is combined with a good amount of festive treats!
Jews globally start planning their best disguise, ready to show off their chosen fancy dress when they go and hear the Megillah– or the story of Purim! And just like many other Jewish festivals, the story starts with someone trying to obliterate them, and on Purim, this man is Haman.
King Ahasuerus held a contest for all the eligible bachelorettes in the empire to audition for a place in his palace
Set in the ancient Persian empire, the story begins when King Ahasuerus who ruled over the empire sent for his wife Vashti’s death for disobeying his order; and what does the king do in this situation? Well, King Ahasuerus held a contest for all the eligible bachelorettes in the empire to audition for a place in his palace.
Jewish people are forbidden to worship ideals or bow down to anybody
Whilst the King was planning his big day, Haman his advisor was roaming the city demanding that each person bows down to his presence. Jewish people are forbidden to worship ideals or bow down to anybody, therefore Mordechai who led the Jewish community at the time refused to follow suit. Haman couldn’t believe his eyes! How dare someone inferior disobey him.
With all his anger, Haman stomped home to convince the king that all the Jews in the Empire must die, starting with Mordechai. As expected when someone calls for your death, the Jews panicked, but Mordechai had a plan… Mordechai always has a plan.
Lo and behold, the King fell in love with Esther, giving her plenty of time to work her magic
Mordechai sent his cousin Esther into the palace to audition to be the next Queen; after all, if Esther can get close to the king, she might be able to cancel the evil decree. Lo and behold, the King fell in love with Esther, giving her plenty of time to work her magic. At the end of the story, we see Haman be summoned to death on the date he originally set for the Jews! Not only that, but when his job title became available once again, Mordechai nabbed it!
What is uniquely special to Purim is that God’s name is not mentioned once in the whole story, making the miracles ‘hidden’. To signify this, amongst the parties to celebrate another lucky escape, Jewish people dress up in fancy dress to disguise themselves like God is in the story.
Food baskets known as mishloach manot and gather for Sudah, or a mighty feast, where lots of hamantaschen are consumed
For those who are a little older, getting drunk until you can’t tell the difference between what is real and what is hidden the aim of the night is always a fun one. Along with this super fun tradition, Jewish families also give each other food baskets known as mishloach manot and gather for Sudah, or a mighty feast, where lots of hamantaschen are consumed!
Mishloach manot is a jazzed-up food basket usually wrapped in squeaky cellophane and draped with curly ribbon. The basket holds a selection of treats, mini bottles of wine and plenty of sugar. The tradition of the gift originates in the law to give to charity on Purim where Jewish people are obligated to give whatever they can to charity.
However, to avoid embarrassing people who need this, Jewish people give to everyone! This lovely tradition is a staple of Purim and nothing is more fun as a child (or 21-year-old) than counting your goodies, and trading and haggling with your siblings to try and grow and improve your collection.
There is no better place to start the bargaining than at a huge feast.
There is no better place to start the bargaining than at a huge feast. Just before sundown on Purim, families and friends decorate the dining room and chef up a feast to celebrate the Jews’ victory in the Purim storey. Everyone comes dressed up and many a photo is taken- and it’s a fun game to look through old pictures to try and figure out who’s who.
One of the more iconic foods at this feast is a sweet challah bread, which is a normal challah bread (which Jewish people eat on the Sabbath) but baked with raisins and topped with sweet syrup and sprinkles to add the celebration.
Haman’s name is embedded in the dessert; they are to signify him
Once the challah has been enjoyed along with the plethora of home cooked goods it’s time for dessert where the hamantaschen are brought out. For those with beady eyes, you may notice that Haman’s name is embedded in the dessert; they are to signify him! Although it may seem a little strange to eat baked goods after the story’s villain, these triangle treats filled with chocolate, jam, lotus or pretty much anything, are the perfect ending to the perfect meal.
The only thing about hamantaschen is that everyone seems to have a different explanation as to why they are shaped as triangles. Some people believe it’s because of the hat that he wore, some say it’s like his ears, and others say it’s like his pockets where he would take bribes to fulfil more evilness.
Purim is a fun filled festival with non-stop laughs, delicious food, and an abundance of alcohol consumption- there’s nothing just quite like it!
Featured image courtesy of Anton via Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes were made.
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