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Just thought you might like to know… Purim (Hebrew: פּוּרִים) celebrates the defeat of an evil plot to destroy all of the Jews in ancient Persia, as told in the Book of Esther (a.k.a. the Megillah). According to the story, Haman, royal advisor to King Ahashverosh, planned to kill all the Jews in the empire, but his plans were foiled by Mordechai and his cousin (or perhaps niece) Esther, who had risen to become Queen of Persia. The day of deliverance became a day of feasting and rejoicing. The word Purim literally means “lots” and refers to the lottery that Haman used to determine the date of his planned massacre.
Many people celebrate Purim by (1) listening to a public reading of the Megillah (bring your noisemaker/grogger to blot out the sound of Haman’s name!), (2) sending gifts of food (mishloach manot) to friends, (3) giving charity to the poor, and/or (4) eating a festive meal. You might also see carnivals, costumes, plays and parodies of the story of Purim, Hamentashen (cookies shaped like Haman’s triangular hat), and people drinking so much wine that they cannot distinguish the good guy (Mordechai) from the bad guy (Haman).
Purim is considered a minor holiday (like Chanukah and Tu B’Shevat) because it does not appear in the Torah, and there is not a tradition of abstaining from work.
This year, Purim begins at sundown on Wednesday, February 28 and ends at sundown on Thursday, March 1.