When is Purim *?
Purim is a Jewish holiday that remembers the deliverance of the Jewish people from a plot to destroy all of them as recorded in the Book of Esther.
It is not a public holiday, but employers may grant optional paid leave.
After the destruction of Judah, the Jews were taken into the captivity by the Babylonian empire. When the Persians took control of Babylonia, Haman, a royal vizier to King Ahasuerus, had plotted to wipe all the Jews, but his plans were foiled by Esther and Mordechai.
Purim means 'lots' as it refers to Haman choosing the date for the massacre of the Jews by casting lots (using stones or sticks with markings).
The Jews then went from being the focus of a decree against them, to becoming the ones allowed to destroy their enemies by royal proclamation.
Purim is celebrated according to the Hebrew calendar on the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Adar. This commemorates the day following the victory of the Jews over the Persians in the battle which was on the 13th day of Adar. It usually falls in late February or March in the Western calendar. In some parts of Israel, Purim is celebrated on the 15th of the month.
Purim is characterized by public readings of the Book of Esther, giving mutual gifts of food and drink, giving charity to the poor, and a festive meal. Other customs include drinking wine and the wearing of masks and costumes.
A popular treat during Purim is Hamantash, a filled-pocket pastry with a distinctive three-cornered shape. The shape is achieved by folding in the sides of a circular piece of dough, with a filling placed in the center. Popular fillings are fruit jam, cheese or poppy seeds. They are said to be named after Haman as he wore a three cornered hat.
On Purim day, typically toward evening, a festive meal called Seudat Purim is held, often with wine as the prominent beverage; consequently, drunkenness is not uncommon at this meal. The jovial character of this feast is illustrated in the saying of the Talmud stating that one should drink on Purim until he can no longer distinguish between the phrases, arur Haman ("Cursed is Haman") and baruch Mordechai ("Blessed is Mordeca"). In Hebrew these phrases have the same gematria ("numerical value"), and some authorities have ruled that one should drink wine until one is unable to calculate these numerical values.
*Like other Jewish holidays, Purim will begin at sundown on the previous day.