Purim 2018 begins at sunset on Wednesday, Feb. 28, and ends at sundown on Thursday, March 1.
The Background of Purim
The story of the joyous holiday of Purim might appear somber at first glance: It tells of the near-destruction of the Jewish people as decreed by Haman, an adviser 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
There are several common 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 food gifts, called mishloah manot, to our friends.
*We eat hamantaschen, triangle-shaped cookies named for the villainous Haman. Learn how to make them in this video or find more than 20 hamantaschen recipes on our food blog, The Nosher.
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 gragger 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?
Think you know everything about Purim? Check out these 9 Things You Didn’t Know About Purim. Take a Purim quiz, or take this quiz to find out which kind hamantaschen you are!
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: meesh-LOE-akh mah-NOTE, Origin: Hebrew, literally “sending portions to one another.” A phrase taken from the Megillah [Book of Esther] that commands the Jewish community to give small packages of food or gifts to friends on the day of Purim.
Pronounced: GROGG-er, Origin: Yiddish, a noisemaker used during the communal reading of the megillah, the Book of Esther, on the holiday of Purim. When the reader speaks the name of Haman, the congregation tries to drown out the evil name using noisemakers and booing.