A Freilicha Purim! Happy Purim!

PurimIt’s that time of year again people! No, not Jewish Halloween (which yes, I have heard the holiday referred to as) It’s Purim!!

The holiday originating back to about 4th century BCE in the land of Persia. At the time the Persian empire extended over 127 lands, and all the Jews were its subjects. When King Ahasuerus (Thought to be Xerxes I) had his wife, Queen Vashti, executed for failing to follow his orders, he orchestrated a beauty pageant to find a new queen. A Jewish girl, Esther, found favour in his eyes and became the new queen—though she refused to divulge the identity of her nationality.

Meanwhile, the anti-Semitic Haman was appointed prime minister of the empire. Mordechai, the leader of the Jews (and Esther’s cousin/uncle/kin), defied the king’s orders and refused to bow to Haman. Haman was incensed, and convinced the king to issue a decree ordering the extermination of all the Jews on the 13th of Adar—a date chosen by a lottery Haman made.

Mordechai galvanized all the Jews, convincing them to repent, fast and pray to G‑d. Meanwhile, Esther asked the king and Haman to join her for a feast. At the feast, Esther revealed to the king her Jewish identity. Haman was hanged, Mordechai was appointed prime minister in his stead, and a new decree was issued—granting the Jews the right to defend themselves against their enemies. On the 13th of Adar, the Jews mobilized and killed many of their enemies. On the 14th of Adar, they rested and celebrated.

Purim observances:

a) Reading of the megillah (book of Esther), which recounts the story of the Purim miracle.

b) Giving money gifts to the poor.

c) Sending gifts of food to friends.

d) A festive Purim feast.

It is also customary for children to dress up in disguising costumes.

One of the most traditional foods associated with Purim is the Hamentashen… a triangular shaped stuffed cookie. The name comes from the villain of the story Haman, and is shaped like either is hat, ears, nose or pockets. The jury is out as to which one it’s really supposed to be, as long as it is shaped like a triangle. It is stuffed with jam, jelly, prune mixtures or poppy seeds traditionally, but I’ve thrown in a whole bunch of new fillings for you to try out this year. You’ll have to let me know which is your favourite, and of course, have a Happy and Safe Purim!!

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