When does Purim 2014 start?
Purim 2014 begins at sunset on Saturday, March 15, and ends on Sunday evening, March 16.
The Background of Purim
Though Purim is a joy-filled holiday, its story might appear somber at first glance: It tells of the near-destruction of the Jewish people as decreed by Haman, an advisor to the Persian King Ahashuerus.
However, Ahashuerus’ newly crowned queen, Esther–who replaced Vashti when she was thrown out of the kingdom–is secretly a Jew. Due to her courage and her eventual role in saving the Jews, the story of Purim is known as "Megillat Esther," or the Scroll of Esther.
What to Do on Purim
* We give gifts to poor people.
* We read the megillah, the Purim story.
* We eat a festive meal, or seudah.
* We give food gifts, called mishloah manot, to our friends.
* We bake hamentaschen, traditional filled Purim pastries.
Other Purim Activities
Many people dress up in costume, following the theme of Purim as a holiday of disguise where nothing is quite as it seems. Synagogues and communities hold plays and festivals specifically for the day. Traditionally, a noisemaker or grogger is sounded when Haman’s name is said aloud during the megillah reading; today some people have instituted a new practice of waving a celebratory flag when Esther’s name is recited.
How Much Do You Know?
Pronounced: muh-GILL-uh, Origin: Hebrew, meaning “scroll,” it is usually used to refer to the scroll of Esther (Megillat Esther, also known as the Book of Esther), a book of the Bible traditionally read twice during the holiday of Purim. Slang: a long and tedious story or explanation.
Pronounced: PUR-im, the Feast of Lots, Origin: Hebrew, a joyous holiday that recounts the saving of the Jews from a threatened massacre during the Persian period.