Beginning on the Hebrew date of Adar 14 (March 6, 2020), Jews around the world celebrate the triumphant holiday of Purim each year. This religious holiday commemorates the rescue of the Jewish people from Haman’s cruel plan to exterminate them in ancient Persia. So raise a glass, celebrate, and feast – Happy Purim!
The background of Purim
Purim’s (which roughly translates to “lots” in ancient Persian) origins date back to the fourth century BCE, when Jews lived under the Persian Empire’s rule. After having his wife, Queen Vashti, executed for refusing to follow his orders, King Ahasuerus organised a beauty contest to find a new wife. Esther, a Jewish girl, had quickly risen to the position of queen despite her refusal to reveal her ethnicity.
During this time, Haman, who was actively opposed to everything Jewish, was appointed as the new prime minister of the empire. Mordechai, leader of the Jews and cousin of the new queen, disobeyed the king’s command to bow. Haman, fueled by his active hatred, convinced the king to issue a decree mandating the genocide of all Jews during the 13th of Adar.
While Mordechai persuaded all of his fellow Jews to repent quickly, Queen Esther invited the king and Haman to a banquet. During the meal, Esther revealed to both her husband and the prime minister that she was Jewish, and that to kill all Jews would be a plot to prevent the murder of the king’s wife. Haman was executed immediately, and Esther’s cousin Mordechai became the new prime minister. His first edict granted all Jews the right to self-defense against anyone attempting to harm them on account of their religion.
On the thirteenth of Adar, the Jews of the Persian Empire rose up and attacked a large number of those conspiring to kill them en masse; the next day, Adar 14, they rested and celebrated. Although Jewish people celebrate Purim all over the world, the holiday is observed in Israel with a massive festival lasting from 14 to 15 Adar (March 9 and 10, 2020).
A recital of the Megillah
The Megillah, also known as the Book of Esther, recounts the origin story. Purim custom is to hear the Megillah read aloud twice, once at night and once during the day. It is customary to make a lot of noise when Haman’s name is spoken in order to drown it out.
Donate to the poor.
Tradition dictates that at least two generous gifts must be given to the poor during the day. You can also donate to your local synagogue, which will then provide community services and assistance.
Consume triangle-shaped food
Some people believe that triangle-shaped foods, such as kreplach and hamantaschen pastries, represent Haman’s three-cornered hat, while others believe that they represent Haman’s ears. In any case, they are delicious, and eating them symbolises the eradication of the evil associated with the anti-Jewish prime minister.