Saturday, March 3, 2012

Hosting a Purim Party

I am planning a Purim Party for my homeschool co-op group, and I thought I would share the details with you now, rather than after the fact, in case you want to celebrate Purim, too.

We celebrated Purim in our home with some homeschooling friends about 16 years ago . . . back when my oldest five were the students!  We haven't done it since; however, which means the youngest five (my current students) have no idea what it is!  I remember that it was a lot of fun and we all learned a lot!

Have you ever celebrated Purim?  If you are of Jewish heritage, I'm sure you have!  But did you know that you don't have to be Jewish to celebrate Purim?  If you're not Jewish, maybe you don't even know what I'm talking about!!  ;)  If that's the case, read on!

What is Purim?

Purim is a Jewish feast that celebrates the providence of God in delivering His people from the hands of those who wanted to destroy them.  The story of Purim (which means "Feast of Lots") is found in the Old Testament book of Esther.

When is Purim?

Purim is celebrated on the 14th of Adar, which ends up being some time in March or April on our calendar.  This year (2012) Purim is on March 8th.  Actually, the observance begins at sundown on March 7th.

How is Purim Celebrated?

The evening before the actual feast day, the book of Esther is read in the synagogue from a scroll.  Each time the name of wicked Haman is read, the children stamp their feet, shout and shake noisemakers to attempt to "blot out" his name.

The next day children and adults dress up as the people in the book of Esther and act out the story.  Then there is a joyous feast, at which Hamantaschen cookies (three-corner pastries shaped like Haman's hat) are eaten.  People give gifts of food to family and friends and to the poor.

Jews have celebrated Purim every year since the time of Esther.  It is one of their most joyous holidays, where they celebrate their deliverance from their enemies.

Why Would Christians Celebrate Purim?

Although Christians are not required to celebrate the Jewish feasts, they may want to consider celebrating Purim.  Why?  Besides being fun, it reinforces several important biblical principles.

First is the reality of persecution.  Ever since God chose Israel as His people, Satan has sought to destroy them.  "Hamans" and "Hitlers" will arise, but God always delivers Israel from their hands.  As true followers of Jesus Christ, we can also expect to face persecution.  2 Timothy 3:12 says, "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."  However, whenever we suffer for the cause of Christ, our faith is tested, our character is refined, and God is glorified.  (1 Peter 4:12-16.)

Second is the providence of God.  Of all the women in Shushan, Esther was chosen to be queen (Esther 2:17).  God, in His sovereignty, placed her in a unique position to exert influence over the king and save the Jewish peoople.  None of these events occurred by accident.  All were ordained by God "for such a time as this"  (Esther 4:14).  We, too, have come to the kingdom "for such a time as this."  God has a unique purpose for each of our lives -- none of us are here by accident!

Third is the preservation of God's people.  Throughout history God has preserved the Jewish people because of His promise to perpetuate Israel's seed.  (Genesis 13:15-16).  Not everyone that claims the name of Christ truly belongs to Him, but God promises that He will preserve a remnant of true believers until the end.

Celebrating the feast of Purim gives us an opportunity to praise God for:  the privilege of sharing in the sufferings of Christ through persecution; the confidence we have in God's providence; and the assurance we have that God will preserve a godly seed for Himself.

How to Host your own Purim party:

1.  Gather your friends and family and read aloud the book of Esther.  Every time you say the name, "Haman," the children should stomp their feet, shake their noisemakers, shout, boo, and hiss, all in an attempt to "blot out" the name of the villain, Haman.  (Simple noisemakers can be made by putting rocks into juice cans and taping the ends shut.)

2.  Plan a feast -- simple or elaborate -- and be sure to include Hamantaschen! (A simple recipe can be found here.)

3.  Encourage each participant to bring food items to donate to the Salvation Army or another local charity that feeds the hungry.

4.  Include fun activities, such as dressing up in costumes and acting out the book of Esther, watching the movie -- "One Night with the King," making Hamantaschen together, making up gift baskets for the poor or elderly, etc.

Check out this website for more fun ideas:

If you decide to celebrate Purim (or if you've done so in the past), please leave me a comment telling me about your Purim Party or Feast.


tlmalcolm said...

Several years ago a family attended my school that belonged to a Christian church that only celebrated holidays that Jesus himself would have celebrated. They celebrated Passover, Purim and other Jewish religious holidays but not Christmas or Easter. It was quite interesting to learn of their faith and traditions.

Rachel said...

Thank you for bringing attention to this holiday.

As a Jew, though, I feel the need to correct your translation. Purim simply means "lots." The word for feast that is generally used when referring to holy feasts is "Chag" (it means, roughly, "pilgrimage feast"). Feast is reserved for the three most important Biblical Jewish holidays: Passover, Sukkot, and Shavuot. Using the term feast in relation to Purim elevates this non-biblical holiday (albeit based on a biblical book) to the same level as the three most important holidays G-d commanded us to observe after the Sabbath.

And for clarification to the first commenter, it should be noted that, of the Jewish holidays, Jesus never would have celebrated Rosh Hashanah or Hannukah, as those were not introduced until after his time. Judaism was very different 2000+ years ago, so it's easy to assume parallels that are not present.

busymomof10 said...

Thank you, Rachel, for clarifying and correcting my/our misinformation!!! Can you tell me how you personally celebrate Purim, as a Jew? I would love to hear your perspective!

karen said...

Thanks for the ideas! We have just completed a study of Esther with our womens bible study and are going to celebrate Purim to complete our study!

Anne Dee Conway said...

Fascinating. Thank you,

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