The other day I was frantically getting my kids and I ready for our tri-annual ‘Big Birthday Bash’. It was to be an ‘Enchanted Forest’ party and everyone was invited to come dressed up-which of corse meant that that Pedersen’s would definitely be dressed up. For multiple reasons this did not work out well and I was a bit harried by the time I got to the party (wearing a ridiculous dress that my 6 year old thought made look “so pretty Mommy”). As I sat helping my sisters and dear friends in the kitchen while the kids played I stated emphatically “When I am rich I am going to buy myself some really nice costumes that fit”. There was a little pause before everyone burst out laughing. I didn’t see what was funny (besides me in this costume that someone else told me, made me look like a “green giant”-thanks friends) until one chuckled “I guess we see where Aunty Bear’s priorities lay. The first thing she is going to buy when she is rich are costumes!! Costumes aren’t even ON the list of things I am going to buy when I am rich”. I guess it did sound a little silly, but as everyone who knows me knows, I love a celebration and beautiful costumes to go with them (or should I honestly say “I love costumes and look for celebrations to go with them”!)
With that background, I am sure it will be no surprise how delighted I was when I learned about Purim. Purim is the Jewish Holiday that celebrates Queen Esthers triumph over Haman. We all know the story about how Queen Esther saved her people from Haman’s wicked plan to annihilate them. The great courage that it took to come before the King uninvited was amazing. To celebrate her courage, and their ‘salvation’ every year the Jewish people gather together to remember this great story. The way they commemorate this event is quite fun. I obviously am not Jewish, so I probably will get things wrong here, but here is my rendition on the important aspects of Purim.
First it is a celebration that the whole nation participates in. Nobody is supposed to go hungry on this day so mishloach manots (gifts of food and drink) are given to friends, mattanot la-evyonim (money or food) is given to the poor, a huge feast is enjoyed (se’udat Purim), and public recitation of the Scroll of Esther (keriat ha-megillah) is given. The fun part (besides the food and friends) is that everyone comes to the feast dressed-up-or at least wearing a mask. Which my kids LOVE to do (and so do I)! And the other part that the kids love is that during the recitiation of Queen Esther, when ever the Rabbi says “Haman” everyone in the congeration is supposed to swirl their noise makers, yell or make other noise that drowns out Haman’s name (sorta like blotting out his name).The moment I learned about Purim, I decided it was going to become one of our yearly traditions.
So this year we celebrated Purim for the first time. It was great (not like my Ukrainian Easter Mid-night Mass idea :)) and we will definitely be doing this again. To celebrate we dressed up like Biblical Jews, made a huge feast with as many traditional Jewish foods including Challah and Hamantashen (AKA Haman’s ears-yuck! Kids loved the name) and watched Queen Esther by Liken the Scriptures. We had invited another family to join in the celebrations with us and it was a hit. Very noisy because every time some one in the movie said Haman’s name everyone yelled and made alot of noise. I am curious how the Rabbi’s like this traditions seeing that Haman’s (ahhh!!) name is said 54 times!!!!
Here is a cute modern song about Purim,