Purim is one of the most important Jewish holidays as it is the time of celebrating the Jewish people being saved from extinction in ancient Persia. For this joyous occasion, the Jewish community comes together to read the Megillah, dress up, cook and feast, drink, and give gifts. As it is such a big holiday it is only natural that certain preparations need to take place for the community to enjoy the holiday ahead.
- Start preparing the food early and bake Challah
Much of the Purim celebration is centered around the feast. If you want to feel prepared and ready to celebrate Purim then one of the best things that you can do is start to prepare the food ahead of time. This could include going shopping earlier to buy all of your favorite Jewish delicacies or making your meal plan. Depending on the food that you will choose to make you may want to start preparing it early as many Jewish dishes will require longer than a day to make. This is also a great time to make Challah for Purim.
- Find what you will dress up as
One of the key elements of Purim is that all those involved will get dressed in costumes and often even wear masks. When choosing your costume, you will want to select something comfortable and fun to wear. Remember that a key part of the Purim celebrations is drinking and partying and by wearing something uncomfortable you may be unable to fully participate in the celebrations.
- Remember what you are celebrating
Purim is an incredibly important religious holiday as it commemorates the Jewish victory over their enemies. In many ways, this even has been linked with the role that God plays in the unfolding of human events and the ways that he assists people with finding their mission. The celebration is about taking action and recognizing God’s role in one’s life.
- Purim Gift baskets
Apart from the main celebrations, you will also need to prepare Purim gift baskets for your friends and neighbors. This is a key part of the Purim tradition as part of the celebration requires giving back to others. This includes both your friends as well as those who are less fortunate than you. Purim gift baskets or Mishloach manot will typically also contain wine, hamantaschen, and two different types of food, normally those would include something sweet and some kind of snack.
- Reading of the Megillah (“Scroll”)
The Megillah, or the book of Esther, is usually read during Purim. Typically, this will be done twice, once during the day and once at night. This helps connect those celebrating with the tradition and events that they are commemorating.
- Giving to the less fortunate
Matanot l’evyonim translates to “gifts to the poor”. As part of Purim, everyone should gift at least two gifts to two people in need. In some communities, it is also customary to donate money. This tradition comes from ancient times when during Purim money would be donated to maintain the Temple.
On the day before Purim, it is traditionally expected that people will fast. This fast is in commemoration of Esther who fasted while praying to God for him to save His people. It is typically only a one-day fast and depending on the day of the week that Purim falls on the time of the fast may slightly change. While fasting is not one of the four Purim Mitzvahs it is still an important part of preparing for this celebration correctly.
To properly celebrate Purim, one needs to observe all four Purim Mitzvahs. Observation of all four rituals is an essential part of the Jewish tradition and they include the reading of the Megillah twice, once on the eve of Purim and once the next day, gifting items and money to two poor people, sending gifts to other people and celebrating with a big Purim feast. All four of these are equally important for the successful celebration of this holiday.
Purim is one of the most entertaining Jewish holidays to participate in. Not only is a big part of this holiday built upon giving back to others, but also the dress-up traditions and the part that is often a big part of this celebration can make this even incredibly enjoyable. Still, even during the part and celebrations, you should not forget what Purim actually signifies and its importance in showing the effects that God has on one’s life.