Jewish Holidays and Festivals
Purim (Feast of Esther)
Purim is one of the most joyous and fun holidays on the Jewish calendar. It commemorates a time when the Jewish people living in Persia were saved from extermination.
The story is told in the book of Esther, and the celebration is in honor of Esther. Esther was a beautiful Jewish queen who was encouraged by her cousin Mordecai to go to her husband the king when his wicked adviser, Haman, had persuaded him to kill all of her people.
After fasting and praying, Esther did go before her husband and pled for all of the Jews to be saved. Her desire was granted.
The word "Purim" means "lots" and refers to the lottery that Haman used to choose the date for the massacre.
Here is a very good Des News article by Emily Christensen (LDS Chaplain): 12 things to know about the Jewish holiday Purim.
On Taanit Esther, the day before Purim, many people fast in remembrance of the fasting of Queen Esther. The Purim holiday is preceded by a minor fast, the Fast of Esther, which commemorates Esther's three days of fasting in preparation for her meeting with the king.
Purim is celebrated on the 14th day of Adar, which is usually in March ( the fourteenth day of the Hebrew month Adar, or exactly four weeks before Passover.)
The 13th of Adar is
the day that Haman chose for the extermination of the Jews, and the day
that the Jews battled their enemies for their lives. On the day
afterwards, the 14th, they celebrated their survival.
According to Jewfaq.org, Jews are commanded to send out gifts of food or drink, and to make gifts to charity.
The book of Esther is unusual in that it is the only book of the Bible that does not contain the name of God. In fact, it includes virtually no reference to God. Mordecai makes a vague reference to the fact that the Jews will be saved by someone else, if not by Esther, but that is the closest the book comes to mentioning God.
Thus, one important message that can be gained from the story is that God often works in ways that are not apparent, in ways that appear to be chance, coincidence or ordinary good luck.
Gifts to charity is always a good thing
Perhaps the most significant fact to Christianity of the Purim holiday is that it is celebrated on the 14th of Adar in the ancient Jewish lunar calendar. This date translates to April 6 in our Gregorian calendar. Many believe the 14th of Adar was the birth date of Jesus.
According to some scholars, it was also on this day in A.D. 37(or 34), during the 23-year reign of Emperor Tiberius (A.D. 14-37), that the Savior of the world was crucified.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was officially organized April 6, 1830.
It is also believed by many that the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt began on that day
A little verse boys and girls in Israel learn and recite at this time is:Mordecai, the Just,
On his horse is riding,
And the wicked Haman
From the tree is hanging.
On Purim Day we send
Nice gifts to each other,
And all the happy children
Dress up in fancy costumes.
A sweet bread called hamanstaschen is usually served in all the homes at the time of Purim.