Celebrations around the world: Purim, 16-17 March

TLS delves deeper into the festivals and events celebrated by different cultures around the world. This month we look at Purim on 16th and 17th March.

What: Purim is a Jewish festival that falls on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Adar. In 2022, it will last from the evening of 16th March through to the evening of 17th.

Why: In the 4th century BC, the Persian Empire ruled over all the Jews. Its king married a woman named Esther, who was Jewish but kept this fact hidden from the king. A Jew-hating man named Haman had been appointed prime minister.

When Esther’s cousin, Mordechai, refused to bow to the prime minister, Haman drew lots (this is what gives Purim its name) to decide the on which date he would annihilate all Jews: the 13th of Adar. While Mordechai gathered support from other Jews, Esther held a banquet where she revealed her Jewish identity to her husband.

Haman was subsequently hanged, and on the 13th Adar, Jews fought their enemies and were victorious. On the 14th, they celebrated.

How: Purim is known as the wildest and most fun of all Jewish celebrations. Children (and some adults) put on fancy dress, people give money to the poor and gifts (traditionally two kinds of food) to each other and loved ones meet to share a Purim feast.

If you are celebrating Purim, we would love to hear about it. Please email nicole.kershaw@newham.gov.uk

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