Purim is one of the most festive holidays in Judaism. Celebrated annually in either February or March, this joyous holiday commemorates the Jewish people’s rescue from extermination in ancient Persia.
Based on the conclusions of the Scroll of Esther (Esther 9:22): “that they should make them days of feasting and gladness, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor”
Purim is celebrated by:
- Exchanging reciprocal gifts of food and drink known as mishloach manot
- Donating charity to the poor known as mattanot la-evyonim
- Eating a celebratory meal known as a se’udat Purim
- Public recitation (“reading of the megillah”) of the Scroll of Esther, known as kriat ha-megillah, usually in synagogue
- Reciting additions, known as Al HaNissim, to the daily prayers and the grace after meals
Jewish people all over the world celebrate this holiday, and even if you don’t affiliate yourself with all the customs of Judaism, you can still join in on the unique observances of the holiday. Special activities, festivities, and meals are all part of observing Purim.
Speaking of food, one of the best treats for Purim are hamantaschen: triangle-shaped cookie pastries with fruit or savory filling. The treat is said to look like Haman’s tri-cornered hat or his ears (“oznei Haman” in Hebrew). Sweet hamantaschen are most popular, with poppy seed, chocolate, date, apricot, or apple filling, but some bakeries are getting into savory fillings, like eggplant, mushroom, or different meats and cheeses.