Wednesday, 2 March 2016
Celebrate Life, It’s Purim!
The masquerade gods have spoken, and yes, dear friends, there IS a reason to slip into your favorite costume between Carnival and St. Patrick’s Day. Purim! Although Hanukkah, Passover and Yom Kippur tend to get a lot more attention, Shushan Purim is the Jewish calender’s most carnivalesque holiday, complete with colorful costumes, masks and cheer all around. This year Purim falls on Thursday, March 24th, and the Purim party kicks off at sundown the day before.
A Purim Story
According to the Book of Esther in the Hebrew Bible, Haman, the genocidal chief advisor to the Persian King, Ahaseurus, ordered the death of all Jews in the Persian empire. Ahaseurus’s consort, Queen Esther, and her cousin and adoptive father, Mordecai, prevented the Jews’ bloody downfall in a miraculous (and decidedly political) intervention. Since then every year on 14 Adar of the Jewish calender, Purim is celebrated in remembrance of the Persian diaspora’s deliverance.
Its history is sordid with a triumphant ending, which makes Purim the wildest, happiest, most exciting day in the Jewish calender. The Purim service in the synagogue is anything but serious: whenever the name, Haman is spoken while reading the book of Esther, the kids in the audience make as much noise as they can with their rattles, maracas and horns. On Purim it’s all about joie de vivre, friendship and community.
Traditionally, dressing up is for kids on Purim, but adults swept up in the joy of it all often wear colorful accessories and Purim costumes, too. In a word: the more color and cheer the better.
Anything goes really, anything that’s fun and not too dark, that is. Princesses and superheroes are very popular kids costumes for Purim, whereas adults love a good animal costume and colorful accessories such as boas, hats and funny glasses. Sometimes it’s just a matter of accessorizing your street clothes.
Purim Event Info
If you want learn more about Purim, chabad.org has a great Purim How-to. In any larger city with a Jewish community, there are bound to be feasts, parades and costume contests.