Friday, March 21, 2008

carnival all over again

Well, I shouldn`t really say that it`s Carnival all over again, since i didn`t actually celebrated Carnival this year (and, for as impossible as it might seem, I haven`t really celebrated any Carnival since I was 10, I guess).

Anyway, today is (was?) Purim, a Jewish Holiday. The history of this holiday is very interesting. When the Jews were part of the Persian Empire, Haman, a high minister of Emperor Xerxes, had the very wicked idea of "annihilating" all the Jews. His plans failed, though, when Xerxed decided to marry Esther, who then became Queen Esther, and who happened to be Jewish. With her as a Queen, the Jews wouldn`t have to fear anything from the Persian or from Haman. The holiday is celebrated because the marriage between Xerxes and Esther is considered providential and divine.

Nowadays, Purim is celebrated with a range of "rituals":
  • public recitation of the Book of Esther (keriat ha-megilla),
  • giving mutual gifts of food and drink (mishloach manot),
  • giving charity to the poor (mattanot la-evyonim),
  • a celebratory meal (se'udat Purim),
  • drinking wine,
  • wearing of masks and costumes
As you can see, a lot of the rituals involve food. One of the most popular is a special kind of cookies that look like a three cornered hat: the Hamentaschen. They are really yummy!
The dress-ups are also nice. Girls usually wear Queen Esther dress-ups, but at Natalie and Olivia`s school today I saw a lot of princesses, animals, pirates, spidermen, football fans, etc. It was really fun :)

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