Portland News

Purim 2022: An Overview and How to Celebrate the Holiday

Photo: Thomas P. Costello
Photo: Thomas P. Costello

Purim 2022 – Holidays should be a festive occasion, and the Jewish celebration of Purim is among the most joyous celebrations that could give other festivities a run for their money. It is a Jewish religious festival that brings friends, families, and the Jewish community together and practices the tradition of feasting and celebrating together.

When is Purim 2022?

Purim is an annual festival that typically falls on the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Adar or the 12th month in the calendar.

The Jewish celebration starts on the evening of Wednesday, March 16 and concludes on the evening of Thursday, March 17.

Purim is also celebrated on the 15th of Adar in other areas, where the fighting occurred within the walls of Jerusalem. This festival is also known as Shushan Purim and is only celebrated in Jerusalem and a few cities.

What is the History of Purim?

Purim is a holiday that perfectly captures what a celebration should look like, bringing costumes and treats together in Jewish communities worldwide. The holiday’s origins can be traced back to the Book of Esther, one of the five scrolls in the Torah that tells the story of how Queen Esther helped the Jews from persecution.

Persian King King Ahasuerus replaced his wife with Esther, appointing Haman as his Viceroy in the process.

During his rule, Mordecai, Esther’s adopted father and her cousin, refuses to bow down to him, angering Haman. As a result, he plots to kill the Jews in the Persian empire, casting lots on the date to move his plan forward.

The date falls on 14 Adar, where Purim gets its name.

Despite learning of Haman’s plans, Mordecai still refuses to bow down to him, prompting the Viceroy to build gallows to hang Mordecai.

Mordecai tells Esther of Haman’s plan. To save her cousin, she approaches the King despite the action being deemed illegal.

Esther devises a plan, revealing Haman’s plan to King Ahasuerus of the Viceroy’s genocidal plot. She also reveals her Jewish lineage, which makes the King order for Haman’s execution on the very gallows built for Mordecai.

A decree is announced letting the Jews kill those plotting to kill them, killing 500 men, including Haman’s ten sons, on the 13th of Adar.

Across the empire, 75,000 enemies were killed that day. On the 14th, 300 more were killed.

Mordecai is promoted to the second rank to the King, and he creates the annual commemoration of Purim.

What Happens on Purim?

Although known for its festive spirits, Purim isn’t just a celebration that kicks off in the evening. 

During the evening, morning, and afternoon prayer services, the Al ha-Nissim (a special prayer) is recited.

Celebrants are also obligated to listen to the reading of the megillah, a public reading of the Book of Esther. During the day, they also practice mishloach manot (sending food gifts to friends), mattanot la-evyonim (giving charity to the poor), and se’udat Purim (eating a festive meal).

How is Purim Celebrated?

Tradition dictates that people wear masks and costumes while the streets are filled with public celebrations of color and dancing. In addition, men are encouraged to celebrate with wine or other alcoholic beverages.

The celebration also calls for people to partake in seeds, nuts, legumes, and green vegetables – the diet of Queen Esther. 

Other traditional foods include the hamantaschen (triangular pastries), Haman’s pockets, or a sweet pastry filled with jam or chocolate spread called oznei Haman Haman’s ears. Kreplach (dumplings) that are filled with cooked meat and soup with chicken or liver are also served during Purim.

Despite the plethora of food, some people practice fasting to honor Queen Esther’s fasting and prayer. The fasting begins at dawn and ends at dusk on Purim Eve, when the celebrations begin.

Opinions expressed by Portland News contributors are their own.