This blogpost series is called Holidays and Holy Days to inform our OSU community about significant religious or spiritual observances.  If you know of a significant holiday or holy day coming up, please communicate the information to Hannah Pynn hannah.pynn@oregonstate.edu in the Dean of Student Life office.

February 23rd-24th, 2013 is Purim, a Jewish holiday beginning at sundown.

Context

Purim celebrates the Jews’ salvation from Genocide in ancient Persia, as told in the book of Esther.  The holiday is also called “Feast of Lots” reflecting when, according to the story, the prime minister Haman cast lots to determine the date for the genocide of the Jewish people.  Haman hated Jews because after being chosen as prime minister by King Ahasuerus, he wanted everyone to bow to him when passing through the city and a man named Mordecai refused.  Mordecai was the uncle to the newly crowned Queen Esther, who had not yet revealed her Jewish identity to the king.  After Haman had told the king that the Jewish people were a threat and needed to be eliminated, Esther bravely confronted the king and convinced him to free her people.  Purim is more of a national holiday than a religious holiday.

Significance

The name of God is not mentioned throughout the entire book of Esther.  Part of the significance of this holiday is celebrating God’s presence and action at all times, even when it is not obvious.  Also, God saving His people through the actions of an orphaned woman, who is the second wife of the king, and who is not a native to the kingdom, demonstrates God’s use of unlikely, insignificant characters.

Rituals/Traditions

  1. Reading the story of Esther together
  2. Festive meal
  3. Giving gifts and food to neighbors and friends
  4. Giving to the poor
  5. Baking 3-cornered pastries called “Haman’s ears” or “Haman’s pockets”
  6. Satirical skits (sometimes illustrating the story of Esther)
  7. Dressing up in costumes (sometimes dressing as the characters in the story or other awesome costumes)

Additional Resources

Pictures of awesome Purim celebrations - http://photos.newhavenregister.com/2013/02/22/photos-purim-holiday-celebrations-in-israel/#name here

Facts about the holiday - http://www.religionfacts.com/judaism/holidays/purim.htm

Wiki - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purim#Greetings

Esther as a story of feminism in ancient Persia - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/deborah-rosenbloom/purim-a-tale-of-womens-empowerment_b_2741397.html

Being Jewish means lots of holiday parties - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eitan-press/purim-how-to-get-drunk-on-god_b_2734923.html#slide=2135012

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