The festival of Purim is celebrated every year on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Adar (late winter/early spring). It commemorates the salvation of the Jewish people in ancient Persia from Haman’s plot “to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews, young and old, infants and women, in a single day.”

Purim is one of the most festive holidays in Judaism. Celebrated annually in either February or March, this joyous holiday commemorates the saving of the Jews from extermination by the wicked Haman in ancient Persia. Even if you don’t affiliate yourself with all the customs of Judaism, you can still join in on the unique observances of the holiday. This article will tell you how to celebrate Purim.

How to celebrate Purim

In the morning there is a special Torah reading (Exodus 17:8-16), describing the battle Joshuawaged against Amalek —Haman’s ancestral nation—almost one thousand years before the Purim events unfolded.

We commemorate these fasts every year by fasting on the day before Purim, a fast which is called Ta’anit Esther (the Fast of Esther ). If Purim falls on a Sunday, the fast is observed on the Thursday beforehand. Fasting is simple. If you are healthy and over the age of bar or bat mitzvah , don’t eat or drink from dawn until after the Megillah (Book of Esther) reading on Purim night (or, if the fast is moved up to Thursday, after nightfall)

Remember that the Ester fast starts on sunrise until Sunset!!!!!!!!!!!!

Before reading the the Megillah , the reader recites the following three blessings:

Hebrew English
ברוך אתה יהוה אלהינו מלך העולם אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו על מקרא מגלה Blessed are You, Adonai, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments and has commanded us regarding the reading of the Megillah.
ברוך אתה יהוה אלהינו מלך העולם שעשה נסים לאבותינו בימים ההם בזמן הזה Blessed are You, Adonai, King of the universe, Who has wrought miracles for our forefathers, in those days at this season.
ברוך אתה יהוה אלהינו מלך העולם שהחינו וקימנו והגיענו לזמן הזה Blessed are You, Adonai, King of the universe, Who has kept us alive, sustained us and brought us to this season.

Blessings Transliterated:

1. Bo-ruch A-toh Ado-noi E-lo-hei-nu Me-lech Ha-olom A-sher Ki-de-sho-nu Be-mitz-vo-sov Ve-tzi-vo-nu Al Mikra Megillah.

2 . Bo-ruch A-toh Ado-noi E-lo-hei-nu Me-lech Ha-olom She-o-so Ni-sim La-avo-sei-nu Ba-yo-mim Ho-heim Bi-z’man Ha-zeh

3 . Bo-ruch A-toh Ado-noi E-lo-hei-nu Me-lech Ha-olom She-heche-yo-nu Ve-ki-yi-mo-nu Ve-higi-o-nu Liz-man Ha-zeh.

Purim starts at sundown:

Read the Purim story. Called the Book of Esther, it tells the story of King Ahasuerus, Queen Vashti,  Queen     Esther, Mordechai the Jew, and the evil Haman and their involvement in or relation to stopping a plot of annihilating the Jewish people. It is a fascinating tale that ultimately ends in the victory of the Jews, and the creation of a holiday to commemorate and celebrate what happened.

Prepare the Purim baskets ( mishloach manot ). These are gifts of non-perishable food items which are distributed among friends and family on Purim day. According to Jewish law, the minimum requirement is to give two different types of food to one person, but most people prepare and give more than one basket. These baskets can be decorated and filled to the extent you wish; there is no rule of thumb. Deliver the baskets on Purim Day.

Fast on the day preceding Purim. This is the Fast of Esther and is observed by religious Jews, commemorating the three-day fast Queen Esther and the Jews undertook prior to speaking to the king about saving the Jews in the Purim story. The fast ends at nightfall, though if Purim falls on a Saturday, the fast is observed on the Thursday before

Dress up . This step is purely optional but is a widely-observed and accepted custom of the holiday. Most children, teenagers, and even some adults put on costumes to increase the celebration of the day.

Hear the Megillah (Book of Esther) read aloud. This is read once at night and once during the day of Purim. The reading usually takes less than an hour to finish, and when the name Haman is mentioned, it is customary to make a lot of noise to “blot” out the evil name.

Give gifts of charity ( Metanot La’evyonim ) to the poor. This is one of the most important observances of the holiday.

Prepare or partake in a festive meal. As it is a joyous occasion, plenty of different dishes (ideally of meat) and wines should be served. The meal should begin in the afternoon and be completed by nightfall.

The primary Festive Purim Meal is eaten in the late afternoon on Purim, after Minchah (the afternoon prayer). One must eat bread (washing as Jewish Law dictates), at least one cooked food, and drink at least one cup of wine. We call this the Purim Seudah.

The drinking of wine ( or Grapejuice ) is significant, because many of the events of Purim happened through wine. Ahasueraus got drunk and killed Vashti, paving the way for Esther to be made queen. Esther gave wine to King Ahasueraus and lowered his defenses, which resulted in his killing Haman. Thus the Megillah tells us that we should celebrate by “feasting.” The Hebrew words for “feasting” means bread, cooked food, and drinking wine. The Talmud therefore tells us to drink on Purim “more wine than we usually do.”


Technical details:

  • Do not fast if you are pregnant or nursing. If you’re ill, consult with a doctor. But even if you are exempt from fasting, skip the snacks and treats.
  • You can get up before dawn and grab a bite—as long as you had this in mind before going to sleep.