Each year Jewish people from all over the world gather together on the 14th day of Adar to celebrate one of the most fun and exciting Jewish holidays. Children and adults of all ages will sing, dance, and, dress up in costumes together at festivals, parties, and parades worldwide all to commemorate the miracle of events that took place thousands of years ago in the Book of Esther. This annual celebration is known as Purim and here at Spirit, we want to make sure you know everything you want to know about this popular holiday.

We bet you’ve got lots of questions, which is why we came ready with a Purim basket full of answers! Here are some of the main things that you’ve been wondering about the holiday Purim that we’d be happy to fill you in on so you can know a little more about this year’s festivities!

What is Purim? 

The holiday of Purim is celebrated to commemorate the Jewish people’s salvation from Haman and the Persian empire as told in the Book of Esther. The story follows four main characters: The Persian King Ahasuerus, his advisor Haman, Queen Esther, and Mordecai the leader of the Jews who is also Esther’s cousin.

The book is a story all about courage, family, and how divine intervention works miracles from behind the scenes. The Jewish people were thought to be inevitably doomed after a decree by Haman for them to all be eliminated. But due to the bravery of Esther and some divine intervention disguised as natural events, the Jewish people were saved and were able to defend themselves against their enemies.

As a result, Purim has been celebrated annually ever since and is a day consisting of feasting, rejoicing, family, and fun. It’s described as a holiday similar to Halloween, Easter, and Mardi Gras all mixed into one, so you can imagine it’s a pretty big deal!

To learn more about the entire history of Purim and to read the full Book of Esther for yourself click right here.

When is Purim this year? 

Purim takes place every year on the 14th day of the Hebrew month Adar. Typically, this date falls during early spring but the exact date on the Gregorian calendar varies year to year. In 2020, Purim begins on the afternoon of Monday, March 9th and ends the next day on the 15th of Adar, or March 10th.

How do you celebrate Purim?

Purim is celebrated in all types of ways, but there are four special mitzvahs or commandments that people typically follow to celebrate Purim. Those four commandments are as follows:

Hear the Megillah – The Megillah is also known as The Book of Esther and is just a retelling of the Purim story. It is a tradition to listen to the reading at least once each day of Purim. During the reading, at any time the villain Haman’s name is said everyone is encouraged to scream and shout to make noise and block out his evil name. It’s a fun tradition for children and adults to participate in to help understand the meaning behind the celebration.

Give charity – Purim is a holiday that celebrates unity within the Jewish people. This is why it’s customary to give charity to the less fortunate on Purim. Usually, those celebrating give charity to at least two of those who are less fortunate. It was thought in the story that the Jews would all be eliminated together so now in the time of celebration, it makes sense to celebrate and prosper together as one.

Send Purim Baskets to Friends – To further emphasize the concept of friendship and unity within the Jewish community on Purim, it is also customary to send Purim baskets filled with food items and beverages to friends and family. Giving gifts to friends is what the Purim celebration is all about.

Have a Purim feast – Every great holiday has to end with an awesome feast! Gather with friends and family for a traditional feast and end the night with loved ones, food, and plenty to drinkHamantaschen cookies or what’s also known as “Haman’s ears” are a customary holiday snack and are filled with many different delicious fillings! And no real Purim feast is complete without lots and lots of wine! 

Why do people dress up for Purim? 

There a few reasons why people dress up for Purim. One of the most accepted reasons is that it is to replicate the idea of Esther hiding her Jewish identity from the King. Another is that it is supposed to represent the miracles that were being disguised as natural events in the story. A final reason for dressing in costume is so that no one feels ashamed of asking for charity since everyone will be in disguise.

How do I pick a Purim costume? 

Picking a Purim costume should be fun and easy! An obvious choice would be to dress up as any of the characters from the story. The King, Haman, Mordecai, and Esther make for a great group costume! If you’re feeling a little more secular, you can totally just dress up as whatever you like! Here are some of our favorite Purim costume ideas that you can’t go wrong with!

Here at Spirit, we’re all about the holiday fun and you should already know that we’re the biggest enthusiasts of dressing up! Since we’re months away from Halloween, Purim is a perfect reason to whip out those amazing costumes. Now that you know exactly what Purim is, you can slip on your disguise and join in on the festivities!