Coming up in March, the Jewish Holiday of Purim is celebrated by all types of Jewish people – secular and religious, alike. Purim looks like Halloween from the outside, but is based on a much different story from the inside. On this day, the Jewish people remember the story of an evil villain who wanted to destroy the Jewish people. In the story, the king of Shushan, a city in the ancient Persian Empire, marries a Jewish woman without knowing it. She then becomes the queen and saves her people from the evil villain’s plans.
Similar to Halloween, Jewish people dress up in costumes on the day of Purim. This is to remind them that the Divine was hiding Himself during the events of the Purim story and has remained concealed in their daily lives, while still performing miracles. They also use groggers (noise makers) to blot out the name of the evil villain while they read the story out loud. The basic ideas of Purim are happiness and celebration so Jewish people celebrate Purim by staying happy!
There are four main customs practiced on Purim. Jewish people are supposed to listen to a reading of the story of Purim in the Book of Esther, give charity to the less fortunate, eat a festive meal, and send gifts with foods and cards to friends. These gifts are called Mishloach Manot, or sending of portions, and are only required to be sent to one person. However, similar to Christmas, many Jewish people today will send gifts to everyone they know on Purim as a way to share in the holiday season.
Inside the gift baskets, families will pack different types of food and send it to friends, relatives, and neighbors on the day of Purim. The baskets typically contain any food that is ready to eat so that the receiver can experience the joy and fulfillment during the day of Purim. Commonly, families will include a Purim card or letter in the basket. Similar to Christmas cards, Purim cards wish those receiving them happiness and joy for the holiday season. And similar to Christmas letters, the cards can also detail celebrated occasions and changes from the previous year.
Impress your Jewish friends by sending them a gift basket for Purim. Pack some foods, including Hamentashen (Purim cookies), add a grogger to use on Purim, and write a note or give a card to wish them joy and happiness during the holiday season. Passover is just around the corner from Purim and occurs a month later. This is when Jewish people don’t eat bread for more than a week, so let’s just say it’s nice to enjoy the luxury and happiness of Purim while it is here!