The Purim story isn’t just a religious holiday — it’s an incredible tale of a strong woman risking it all to save her people. Purim starts on the evening of March 23 and ends on the evening of March 24. And the woman being celebrated is Esther — of the Bible‘s Book of Esther — Queen of Persia. She became queen by hiding her Jewish heritage from her husband Ahasuerus, King of Persia. When one of his advisors, Haman, plotted to destroy all of the Jewish people in his kingdom (which was all of the Jews in the world), Esther risked her life by approaching her husband without being summoned, revealed her true ethnicity and asked him to spare her people. The Feast of Purim celebrates her bravery and the execution of Haman.
Here are 10 fascinating facts about the Purim story that may surprise you!
1. Queen Esther may have been a vegetarian (for a while at least).
Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus College of Staten Island reports, “According to the Talmud, Queen Esther, the heroine of the Purim story, was a vegetarian while she lived in the palace of King Achashverus, in order to avoid violating the kosher dietary laws while keeping her Jewish identity secret. Therefore, Purim is an ideal time for Jews to shift toward vegetarian diets.”
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2. LEGO Purim Story
You can teach your children about the Purim story with this strangely adorable animated video made entirely with LEGOs.
3. Mordecai was the first Jew.
Esther was raised by her cousin Mordecai. Now he wasn’t the first Jewish person; he’s thought to be the first person to be referred to as a Jew rather than an Israelite or Hebrew.
4. Leap Year Means Twice the Fun
Purim is celebrated in the month of Adar in the Jewish calendar. In leap years (like this one!) there are two months of Adar and the official Feast of Purim is in the second Adar because it’s always celebrated one month before Passover. However, some people have a Purim Katan (Little Purim) on the 14th of the first Adar.
5. The Fast of Esther
Because Queen Esther fasted for three days before she spoke to the King, the Feast of Purim is preceded by the Fast of Esther which lasts from dawn until dusk of Purim eve.
If you haven’t heard of them, you’ve probably seen them. Hamantaschen is a traditional Purim, and highly symbolic, Purim cookie made by folding the edges of a cookie dough circle into a triangle filled with jam or other sweet spread.
7. The Word Purim Means Lot
That’s lot as in drawing lots like for a lottery. In this case it refers to the way Haman chose the date for slaughtering all of the Jews in Persia.
8. There are Costumes!
Purim is a fun and festive holiday so of course costumes are involved. They’re often reserved for the kids but adults can enjoy a little dress-up too. You can be Queen Esther, King Ahasuerus or an astronaut — whatever makes you happy.
9. The Megillah
The Megillah refers to a scroll containing The Book of Esther which is read for Purim.
Kreplach is another traditional part of the Purim Feast. They are boiled or fried dumplings filled with ground meat or vegetables and often eaten in soup.
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