A Brief History of Purim
What has no horns, no money, and some absolutely sensational junk? Give up? Me! If that surprises you perhaps you’ve given into some of the centuries’ old slander and misinformation surrounding the Jewish people. Fortunately, the Internet hates racism and misinformation, so let’s take this opportunity to shine a little light on Jews and their holidays, starting with Purim!
That’s right, Purim. The day everyone has work, no one is off from school, and the world spins on indifferent to one percent of its population getting drunk and eating strange foods. Purim is a holiday based in history: a familiar story with a different ending. See, being a Jew means learning about all the times people kicked your ass at best, and murdered you at worst. The Purim story, however, recalls the time Persians pursued a Jewish genocide and failed! Cool beans — or as the Jews never say under any circumstances, “chilled gefilte.”
Yep, a dude named Haman was royal vizier to King Ahasuerus and he was not a big fan of the Jews who (as is typically the case for a people continually fleeing a homeland) are a minority in the Kingdom. Haman’s contempt seems centered on a Jew named Mordechai even though Mordechai apparently once foiled an attempt on the King’s life. In any event, as horrible men with last names starting with “H” have a tendency to do, Haman thought it would be a good idea to murder Mordechai and also all the Jews in the kingdom. Although Ahasuerus is initially down with the plan, he changes his mind upon learning that the man who helped save his life (Mordechai) and even the Queen (Esther) is Jewish. Who knew? Certainly, not the guy who had no problem green lighting genocide in the first place.
Anyway, the King changes his mind and murders Haman, Haman’s sons, and a whole lot of Persian Jew-Haters instead, because, after all, this was ancient Persia and people never thought of solutions that didn’t involve a ton of murder. To celebrate this rare win in the Jewish playbook, Jews like to read the story of Purim in a book called the Megillah which has no relation to the Hannah-Barbera Magilla Gorilla cartoon to follow centuries later — (except that I haven’t looked at either since I was six). We also get drunk. We’re supposed to. It’s fun. Then we eat gross fruit-filled, three-cornered, pastry cookies called hamantaschen, wear masks, party, and make noise. It’s about as nutty as the Jews get without Adam Sandler playing two roles in one movie.
Deconstruct more cultural holidays with us in 3 Explanations of Christmas Phenomena That Ruin The Fun and Arthur’s Day: The World’s Best Corporate Holiday.