Purim 2022: when is it, meaning of Jewish festival, story and how to wish someone a ‘Happy Purim’ in Hebrew

The Jewish festival Purim is a joyous time uniting the Jewish community every year

Purim is a Jewish religious festival commemorating when Jewish people were saved from Haman, an official of the Persian King.

It is a joyous festival where friends and family, and the Jewish community gather to tradition through feasting, rejoicing and exchanging food.

But when is Purim in 2022, and what is the history behind it?

Here’s what you need to know.

When is Purim 2022? 

In 2022, the festival Purim will begin on the evening of Wednesday 16 March and end on the evening of 17 March.

Purim is an annual festival, falling on the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Adar (the 12th month in the calendar) which is the day after the victory of the Jews.

In certain areas, Purim is celebrated on the 15th of Adar as fighting was happening inside the walled city at that time. This festival is known as Shushan Purim. Now, only Jerusalem and a few other cities celebrate Purim on the 15th Adar.

What is the history of Purim? 

The narrative of Purim is told in the Book of Esther, one of the five scrolls in the Torah, and depicts the story of how Queen Esther helped save the Jews from persecution.

King Ahasuerus of the Persian Empire replaced his wife with Esther and appointed Haman as his viceroy.

When Mordecai, Esther’s cousin and adopted father, refuses to bow down to him, Haman plots to kill the Jewish minority in the empire, and casts lots on the date to do this - on 14 Adar - which is where Purim, which means lots, gets its name from.

When Mordecai finds out about Haman’s plans and refuses to bow down to him again, Haman builds a gallows to hang him.

Mordecai tells Esther of Haman’s plans, to which Esther approaches the King despite it being illegal to do so.

She devises a plan, and reveals to King Ahasuerus of Haman’s plans to exterminate the Jewish community, and that she is Jewish.

The king orders Haman to be sent to the gallows he built for Mordecai and allows Mordecai and Esther to create a decree. They decreed that Jewish people may preemptively kill those sought to be a lethal risk which leads to 500 attackers and Haman’s 10 sons killed on 13 Adar.

Throughout the empire, 75,000 of the Jewish people’s enemies were killed, and on the 14th, another 300 were killed - with no spoils taken.

Mordecai assumes the second rank to the King and creates an annual commemoration of this event.

How is Purim celebrated? 

Purim is a loud, joyous festival to celebrate the defeat of Jewish enemies, and is more national than religious. A special prayer, Al ha-Nissim (for the Miracles), is recited during the evening, morning and afternoon prayer services.

The four main obligations of the day are:

  • Listening to a public reading of the Book of Esther (reading of the megillah)
  • Sending food gifts to friends (mishloach manot)
  • Giving charity to the poor (mattanot la-evyonim)
  • Eating a festive meal (se’udat Purim)

The latter three only apply during the daytime hours of Purim.

Traditions also see people wearing masks, costumes and the streets are adorned with public celebrations, with colour and dancing. Men are encouraged to drink wine or any other alcoholic beverage.

Traditional food sees triangular pastries called hamantaschen, Haman’s pockets, or oznei Haman Haman’s ears, which is a sweet pastry filled with jam or chocolate spread.

Seeds, nuts, legumes and green vegetables are traditionally eaten on this day as these were the diet of Esther, who had no access to kosher food.

Dumplings (kreplach) filled with cooked meat, chicken or liver serviced in soup, are traditionally eaten too.

How to say Happy Purim 

It’s common to greet one another on Purim in Hebrew by saying: Chag Purim Sameach, pronounced as Khang poo-reem sah-may-akh.

In Yiddish you can say: ah Freilichen Puri, which is pronounced as Fray-likh-en Poo-rim.

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