As the beloved holiday of Purim nears, it only makes sense to offer up a brief history lesson before you run out to buy a Purim gift basket for your friends and family.
At its very essence, Purim celebrates the deliverance of the Jews from the wicket Haman. That’s the core. While the carnival-like atmosphere, the wearing of costumes and bringing of gifts leads the non-Jewish population to refer to Purim as a “Jewish Halloween” or “Mardi Gras,” it is actually so much more than that. The story of Purim is found in the biblical book of Esther, which is referred to the Megillah).
The actual holiday is preceded by a minor fast, referred to as the Fast of Esther. This acknowledges the three day fast that came right before the miracle of Haman’s downfall. This is usually observed from dawn to sundown immediately before Purim. Once fasting is over and celebration has begun, kosher gift baskets start to appear in record numbers.
When the holiday begins at sundown, the Megillah is publicly read twice in synagogues and then twice more the following morning. It is tradition that when the name Haman is read, people stomp their feet, hiss, boo or shake noisemakers in a demonstration of obliterating his name forever. Giving of charity to the poor and gifts of food among friends are the two main demonstrations of Purim. Therefore, it is time to stock up on gift baskets today!