Many people are not familiar with the Jewish holiday of Purim. Purim centers around the story of a man named Haman, a king’s adviser who planned to draw lots to determine which Jewish people he should kill. The king’s wife, Esther, told the king of this plan, and therefore saved the Jewish people. On the surface this holiday doesn’t sound very festive, but read on to discover a few fun facts about Purim.
A happy and joyous occasion
In the entire Jewish religion, Purim is considered one of the happiest and most joyous of occasions. Indeed, some rabbis have ordered all adults to get drunk on Purim. Sounds a little more festive now, doesn’t it? Adults are supposed to get so intoxicated that they can’t remember who the bad guy was and who the good guy was in the story the holiday recalls.
‘The whole megillah’
The saying, “the whole megillah,” is actually a phrase derived from the name of the scroll from which the story of Esther is read. That story is read two times on Purim. It is read at night and then again the following morning.
Let’s make some noise
A noisemaker called a gragger is used to stir up a tremendous amount of noise every single time the name of Haman is said while the megillah is being read. This is supposed to drown out his very name. Children make these graggers, and it is a fun project that allows the young ones to get involved in the festive activities. The gragger is typically a small container filled with lentils and dried beans that is then decorated and shaken.
There is a three-cornered pastry containing poppy seed that is eaten on Purim. That pastry is called “hamantashen.” Why three corners? The pastry has three corners because Haman’s hat had three corners. In Hebrew, these pastries are referred to as oznei haman, which stands for “Haman’s ears.”
Interestingly, in the Book of Esther, of all the sacred and holy Jewish books, God’s name is nowhere to be found.
On Purim, it is the Jewish custom to give alms to poor people. One is supposed to give away three half-dollar coins. Whether the giver is extremely wealthy or very poor, all are required to give away the same amount on Purim. Why? Because it is believed that everyone has a truly equal role to play in the future and destiny of the Jewish people and their faith.
The Jewish religion is filled with tremendous tradition, ritual and faith. It is made up of a fabric of wonderful customs and celebrations that make it a very interesting faith to study and learn about and/or experience.