Purim Party Planning, Ideas & Supplies
Sunset March 11 – Sunset March 12, 2017
The holiday of Purim celebrates the victory of the Jewish people over the evil Haman. On the day preceding Purim there is a fast called “The Fast Of Esther”. On Purim itself, the Megillah (Book Of Esther) is read twice, once at night and once during the day. Purim is celebrated by giving charity, sending Shalach Manot (gifts of prepared food) and holding a festive meal.
Purim, which is celebrated on the 14th of Adar (February-March), commemorates the foiling of a plot by a Persian minister (Haman) to kill all the Jews in Persia. Purim is observed by Jews around the world. Characterized by feasting and merriment, Purim is typically celebrated in the company of family and friends in a synagogue.
The Purim story is recounted in the Book of Esther (Megillat Esther), which is contained in the Ketuvim section of the Bible (Tanalch). According to the Megillah of Esther, Haman decides to kill all the Jews in Persia after Mordecai, a Jew, refuses to bow down to him. After the Persian king Ahaseurus approves Haman’s plot, Mordecai and his niece Esther, who is also the wife of King Ahaseurus, decide to expose Haman’s plan. On the 14th of Adar, Esther succeeds in foiling the plot, and Haman is hung by orders of King Ahaseurus. The holiday is called Purim, which means lots because Haman is said to have drawn lots in order to determine the day on which the Jews should be slaughtered.
On the 13th of Adar, the day before Purim, Orthodox Jews observe the fast of Esther which lasts until sundown. Usually, two Purim services are held in the synagogue. The first is held in the evening of the 13th of Adar while the second is held on the morning of the 14th. During both services, the Megillat Esther is read in its entirety. While the Book of Esther is being read, it is customary for children to rattle their graggers or noisemakers in a symbolic attempt to blot out the name of Haman. In the late afternoon, a festive meal is eaten. Among the foods typically enjoyed are boiled eggs, beans, and three-cornered pies known as hamantashen (Haman’s pockets). Originally they were called Mohn-tashen, or poppy-seed pockets, but the similarity of the name to Haman made them associated with the villain of Persia. In Hebrew they are called Haman’s ears.
The Book of Esther prescribes certain rituals which are to be performed on Purim. Emphasizing the importance of good deeds and charity, the Megillah of Esther states that individuals must give gifts both to friends and to the poor. Specifically, Jews are required to give two portions of food to at least one friend and must give money to two poor individuals.
On the basis of Italian influence, the holding of a Purim carnival has become common in many countries. During this carnival, Jews dress up in costumes and often perform plays which retell the story of Purim. In Israel, for example, Purim is observed by the holding of the Adloyada festival in Tel Aviv.