The celebration of Purim

Purim is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the saving of the Jewish people from annihilation at the hands of an official of the Achaemenid Empire named Haman, as it is recounted in the Book of Esther (usually dated to the 5th century BCE). It will be held on March 23 this year.

Haman was the royal vizier to the Persian king Ahasuerus (Xerxes I or Artaxerxes I; Khshayarsha and Artakhsher in Old Persian, respectively). His plans were foiled by Mordecai of the tribe of Benjamin, and Esther, Mordecai’s cousin and adopted daughter who had become queen of Persia after her marriage to Ahasuerus. The day of deliverance became a day of feasting and rejoicing among Jews.

According to the Scroll of Esther, “they should make them days of feasting and gladness, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor”.

Purim is celebrated with food, charity and gatherings. The four observances of the holiday are to read the book of Esther, give charity to at least two needy individuals, share the gift of food with at least one friend and partake in a festive meal.

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