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Purim, or the Feast of Lots, is a silly and joyful holiday celebrating the Jewish people being saved from a wicked plot in ancient Persia. 

The word Purim means "lots" in Hebrew, referring to how cruel Haman cast lots to determine the day he would encourage attacks on the Jews.

 

During Purim, we read The Book of Esther from the Hebrew Bible. It's about Mordechai, a faithful Jew, and his brave niece Esther, who save their people from the evil plans of Haman, King Ahashverosh's advisor.

Purim traditions include the lively reading of the Book of Esther from a special scroll known as the megillah, while listeners enthusiastically participate by booing or cheering and using noisemakers called groggers to drown out the name of the villainous Haman.

Many communities have a Purim shpiel, a play telling the story of Purim, with jokes, songs, and silliness. Purim carnivals focus on games of chance, and participants often attend in colorful costumes. 

People dress in costumes on Purim as a playful nod to Queen Esther, who disguised her Jewish identity when she married King Ahashverosh. It's all about adding to the festive spirit and bringing extra fun and silliness to the celebration!

Another Purim tradition is giving gifts of food, especially Purim treats, such as hamantaschen, to family, friends, and neighbors. This is called "shalach manot" in Hebrew. It comes from the end of the Book of Esther, which says that the Jewish people celebrated their deliverance by sending gifts of food to one another as well as helping provide food for those without enough to eat.

 

Some wonder if it's true that you are supposed to get drunk on Purim. It is said to be traditional to drink until you can’t tell the difference between the hero Mordecai and the mean Haman. However, outright drunkenness is not encouraged, and this tradition is not intended for people who cannot drink safely or who are going to drive or do any other activity which might be dangerous after drinking.  

This video is a great introduction to this Jewish holiday.

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