Purim is one of the most fun Jewish holidays, known for its parties, costumes, and snacks. It’s easy to forget that there’s actually a story behind all the festivities. So here’s everything you need to know about Purim to get ready for all the costume parties and bar crawls ahead.
What is the Story of Purim?
Purim is based on the Book of Esther — perfect for Women’s History Month.
The tale takes place a few centuries before the Common Era when a Jewish community was flourishing in Persia. At the start of the story, the king banished his queen for not listening to his every command and married a new bride, Esther. But Esther wasn’t really the push-over the king had wanted.
Esther was told before the marriage to keep her Jewish faith a secret by her cousin Mordecai. This is the same man who refused to bow down before Haman, who decided to kill all the Jewish people in Persia as revenge.
Esther risked her life by hiding her identity. But she revealed she was Jewish at a feast with the king and Haman, persuading the king to let Jews protect themselves against Haman’s evil plot. Due to Esther’s bravery and boldness, the Jews were able to defeat Haman’s assassins. Mordecai ended up taking Haman’s place as the Royal Vizier.
For this reason, Purim has become a story of courage, bravery, and overcoming adversity.
When is Purim in 2023?
Jewish holidays fall on a different day each year. This year, Purim begins at sundown on Monday, March 6. It ends Tuesday, march 7.
Purim isn’t a religious holiday, so Jews don’t have to follow the Sabbath laws. You can still use electronics, like your phone, and drive cars. It’s not a high holiday, so there’s a bigger focus on celebration of Jewish life and Queen Esther.
How Do Jews Celebrate Purim in 2023?
So how do you celebrate Purim?
At temple, Jews will read the Book of Esther. But this celebration is a lot more lax and Jews can really make their own traditions that fit their lifestyle and beliefs. There are still some popular traditions, however.
This includes kids dressing up in costumes, often depicting people in the Purim story. Communities will also host parades and carnivals. There’s also a noise maker called the grogger that kids will shake and yell “boo” whenever Haman’s name is said, often during plays put on by synagogues.
Jewish people will also celebrate by giving to others. They’ll give food to friends and donate to charities. There is also a big festive meal for communities to eat together.
Adults also have some traditions of their own, including huge costume parties with alcohol and other rowdy activities.
Purim Palooza 2023
If you aren’t as immersed in a Jewish community where you live, you can celebrate Purim online at Lost Tribe’s annual Purim Palooza. This teen-oriented virtual event features four days of live streams on Twitch and activities on their community’s Discord.
Purim Palooza is a blend of Purim information and gaming streams to help Jewish teens better connect with their culture — and each other — no matter where they live in the world. Meeting teens where they already are is the best way to authentically share the story of Purim while offering them the things they love — prizes, gaming, music, and merch.
Here is the schedule!
What Do Jews Eat on Purim?
There are two traditional treats you’ll see at Purim celebrations. The first is hamantaschen, a three-cornered cookie that represents Haman’s hat. The most common fillings are fruit-based. Synagogues will often get together to bake these cookies together.
Another common meal is kreplach. This is a pasta dough folded around a meat filling, usually served inside a soup. This is a hearty and delicious meal where the encased meat represents Queen Esther hiding her identity deep inside.