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What is the holiday of Purim?

Written by Dianna Wiebe on .

Purim, a two-day celebration, recalls events from the book of Esther. The holiday’s origins are found in Esther chapter nine, with added traditions over time for fun and lasting memories.

Where do we find the Purim story in the Bible?

Purim originates from the biblical story of Esther. Esther, a Jewish woman, becomes queen and heroically rescues her people, the Jews, from annihilation.

The term Purim comes from the Hebrew word for lots. This refers back to the story of Purim in which lots were cast by Haman, the bad guy of the story, to determine the date of destruction for the Jews in Persia

Esther Bible Study

Today, Purim is a very joyful and fun holiday, complete with family, friends, storytelling, dressing up, and special foods.

  • Fasting: The day before Purim, Adar 13, is known as Esther’s Fast in remembrance of the fast Esther declared before she went in to see the king (Esther 4:15-17) Today, is a fast that day to remember that the enemies of God’s people still exist and we need the Lord to strengthen us for the tasks He has for us. This year, Esther’s Fast is on March 22, 2024.
  • Reading and Celebrating: Traditionally, the book of Esther is read aloud during a Purim service or at home. When the story is read you don’t just listen, you participate!
    • Cheering when the names Esther and Mordecai are read.
    • Booing and Hissing, stomping feet, and using noisemakers are encouraged when Haman’s name is read.
    • Dressing up as one of the characters in the story- a queen, a king, Mordecai, and Haman are the most popular but not limited to them.
    • Blessings are lifted in prayer to the Lord.
  • Giving Gifts
    • Gifts are traditional given to family and friends during Purim
    • The Poor are also remember by giving to those around you who are in need.

What are the special foods for Purim?

Like most holidays, special foods are made the celebration. Here are some of the traditional foods you will want to try:

You can find these are other Purim recipes here.

When is it celebrated?

Purim is celebrated on Adar 14 if you live in Israel. However, if you live outside Israel the celebration is a two-day holiday celebrated on Adar 14 and 15. The biblical dates of Adar 14-15 fall on March 7-8, 2023 on the Gregorian calendar this year.

Why is it celebrated?

Purim is celebrated because of the biblical mandate:

And Mordecai wrote these things and sent letters to all the Jews, near and far, who were in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, to establish among them that they should celebrate yearly the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar,  as the days on which the Jews had rest from their enemies, as the month which was turned from sorrow to joy for them, and from mourning to a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and joy, of sending presents to one another and gifts to the poor.

Esther 9:20-22

Since the time of the original events, Jews and Christians have been remembering how God delivered His people from death under Haman each spring on Purim.

Why should I consider celebrating Purim?

The characters found within the book of Esther all have something to teach us.

  • Esther teaches us to trust in God, follow wise advice, take time to fast over important choices, be willing to lay down our lives for others if it is required, and ultimately to remember that God was in control, regardless of how dark it looked.
  • The King teaches us to remember those who have done good to us and to find a way to protect those in danger.
  • Mordecai teaching us to do our work well so that we are in the places God can use us in our day. He teaches us to take care of family and be willing to stand up for our family when they are threatened.
  • Haman teaches us that there will always be enemies of God and His people. Haman’s may seem to be winning, but God will have the last word and does protect His people.

What Can Christians Learn from Purim?

Holidays always have two purposes, to remember and to grow spiritually. This week as we remember the events of the book of Esther, how can we grow spiritually? Do we need to take a day of fasting and ask for wisdom, strength, and direction? Is it time to draw our family together, turn of all distractions, and read the book of Esther while sharing special foods?

Regardless of how you celebrate Purim this year, I do hope you take time to read and study the book of Esther and ponder what message the Lord has for you on those days.

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