When does Purim 2013 start?
Purim 2013 begins on Saturday, February 23, at sunset, and ends in the evening of Sunday, February 24.
The Background of Purim
Purim is a joyous holiday, though the story of Purim is not necessarily so: It tells of the near-destruction of the Jewish people, as decreed by Haman, an advisor to King Ahashuerus of Persia. However, Ahashuerus' own queen, Esther--who replaced Vashti when she was unceremoniously thrown out of the kingdom--is a secret Jew. Due to her courage, and her central role in saving the Jews, the story of Purim is known as "Megillat Esther," or the Scroll of Esther.
What to Do on Purim
There are four traditional practices on Purim:
* We give gifts to poor people.
* We read the megillah, the Purim story.
* We eat a festive meal, or seudah.
* We give presents of food, called mishloah manot, to our friends.
Other Purim Activities
Many people dress in costumes, following the theme of Purim as a holiday of disguise where nothing is as it seems. Synagogues and communities will hold plays and festivals for the day. Traditionally, a noisemaker or grogger is sounded when Haman's name is said aloud; today some people is a new tradition to wave a celebratory flag when Esther's name is recited.