Fun Ways to Celebrate Purim (a Jewish Holiday) with Your Children

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There is one holiday on the Jewish calendar I have always gone out of my way to celebrate – Purim. This holiday commemorates the story of Esther, who risked her life to save the Jewish people and brought about the demise of the man who was plotting against them.

Purim is a wonderful celebration of good triumphing over evil, and the story of Esther has important lessons which can be applied today, especially the lesson of celebrating diversity and tolerance for others’ beliefs which may differ from our own. Teaching our children these things at a young age can only serve to make their lives richer as they embrace people from all walks of life.

How to Purim is Celebrated

If you’re not Jewish or have never heard of Purim, the easiest way to explain how it’s celebrated is to take Halloween, New Year’s Eve, a bit of Mardi Gras, and mix them all together. Let me explain some of the components you’ll need to celebrate Purim and how they relate to the three events just mentioned:

Costumes – It is tradition on Purim for people to dress up in costume to celebrate, which is similar to Halloween. In fact, a great many Purim fans start planning their Purim costumes around Halloween time, so they can be sure to find the perfect thing to wear.

Noisemakers – Next, there are the groggers, also known as “noise makers.” It is tradition to read the book of Esther (also known as a Megillah reading) on Purim, and to sound the groggers any time the name “Haman” is spoken. Haman is the villain in the book of Esther, so no one really likes him too much. The noise makers for New Year’s Eve were originally devised to ward off evil in the New Year, so the noise blotting out evil is a similar theme.

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry  – Finally, there is a commandment to eat, drink, and be merry, which is pretty much the theme of Mardi Gras.

purim

Ways to Celebrate Purim with Children

  • Dress your child in costume. As I mentioned earlier, shopping around Halloween time is perfect since so many stores have lots of options to choose from. Tip: Wait until after Halloween to get costumes marked half off (or more!).
  • Attend a Purim Megillah reading at a local synagogue. Have your children decked out in costume. Bring noisemakers (which can be found at places like the Dollar Store, Party City, or any store that sells party supplies).
  • Read the Purim story to your children at home. If you do not have noisemakers, they can substitute yelling “Hooray” and “Boo” at appropriate times. Instruct them to sound the noisemakers or yell “Boo!” whenever you say the name “Haman”, and to cheer “Hooray” whenever you say “Mordechai.”  The point is to bring about such noise that you can’t tell the difference between “Blessed be Mordechai” and “Cursed be Haman.” In this way, the bad will be overshadowed by the good.
  • Give to Charity. This does not have to be a large donation. Even a nickel is enough. The point is to teach our children to give to those less fortunate. You can ask your children who they think might need help, and be pleasantly surprised by their answers. The charity does not necessarily have to be Jewish or a synagogue. In the past, I donated monetarily to a charity which grants wishes to children with terminal diseases. I have also donated to a charity that provides art supplies to cancer patients to help them pass the time during chemotherapy. You can also encourage your children to create something for someone in need – a card for soldiers overseas, a hat for a baby in the local hospital’s NICU ward, a lap blanket for someone who uses a wheelchair to get around. By giving to others in need, we are doing our part to repair the world.
  • Give Mishloach Manot to friends. Mishloach Manot are goody bags filled with food treats. Last year, our synagogue gave out Mishloach Manot bags containing a wide variety of teas, cookies, candies and snacks.
  • Eat Hamantashen cookies. The traditional cookie associated with Purim is “Hamantashen.” Hamantashen are triangular shaped cookies, which represent the shape of Haman’s hat (the villain in the Purim story).  They can be filled with different flavors of jelly or poppy seeds.

Purim is celebrated on the Jewish calendar date of 14th Adar, which this year corresponds to sundown on Saturday, March 15th, 2014 through sundown on Sunday, March 16th, 2014.

What ways do you celebrate Purim with your children?

 

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Barbara Reggio is a wife, mother, and small business owner. She has been married to Jonathan since May 2011, and they are partners in parenting their two children, Lucie (January 2012) and Asher (April 2014). The Reggio family relocated to West Columbia from Long Island, NY in March 2013 when Jonathan accepted a job transfer. She has the best of both worlds working both outside the home at a Customs House Brokerage and running her home based business, Trendy Babywearing. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Maritime Studies from the State University of New York at Maritime College. When she is not working or writing articles for Columbia SC Moms Blog, Barbara enjoys walking at the Riverbanks Zoo with her family, babywearing, reading, singing along to the radio (loudly) in her car, loom knitting, documenting her children's lives with photography, and writing on her personal blog http://www.trendsettermom.com/. Barbara is currently working on her goal of becoming a lifetime member with Weight Watchers.

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