The History of Purim
It all began in the 4th century, when King Ahasuerus had taken over the Persian throne, during a time when the Holy Temple had been destroyed and Jews in 127 lands were under the rule of the Persian Empire. King Ahasuerus was new to the throne, but when he felt sure that his position was secure, he celebrated with a 180-day-long party, where everyone in his kingdom participated. After this celebration was over, he threw another extravagant, yet smaller week-long party for all the men in Shushan, the capital city. At the same time, his wife, Queen Vashti, hosted a party of her own for the women of the city.
Queen Vashti was said to be one of the most beautiful women in the kingdom, and during the party the king decided he wanted to show her off. Instead of obeying his request, the queen balked, and the king ordered that Vashti should be executed.
Unfortunately, the king soon became lonely and decreed that all the beautiful girls in the kingdom should be brought to him to perform in a sort of beauty pageant. The girl he found favorable would become his new queen.
At this time, the Jewish leader was a man named Mordechai who had a young cousin named Esther. Esther was an orphan, and Mordechai had raised the girl like his own daughter. While she didn’t want to become the queen, she was taken to the king’s harem to prepare for the contest. While she made no attempt to beautify herself like the other girls with lotions and perfumes, when she met with the king he immediately liked her. She quickly became his new queen, but at the request of her cousin, did not tell the king that she was a Jew.
Shortly afterwards, a man named Haman became the Prime Minister. He hated the Jews, and when Mordechai refused to bow down to him, Haman decided, with the permission of the king, to exterminate every single Jew in the kingdom and sent out decrees stating this would take place on the 13 day of Adar. When Mordechai learned of this, he spoke to Esther and asked her to go to the king, reveal her nationality, and beg him to spare the lives of the Jews. This scared her, as anyone who approached the king without permission or being summoned was immediately put to death. She did as she was asked, but first fasted for three days and three nights. She then invited the king to a great feast. The first night of the feast, she said nothing about her request. The second night, however, she revealed that she was a Jew and begged the king to spare her life and the life of her people.
Haman was executed for his deceitful act, and while decrees from the king could not be rescinded, Mordechai was made the prime minister and was able to create a new law that allowed all the Jewish people to protect themselves against any enemy they had.
Celebrating Purim Today
The day that Esther and Mordechai were able to help the Jews obtain the freedom and deliverance they so desperately needed has become a day of remembrance, rejoicing, and feasting. Today we still celebrate this day on the 14th day of the month of Adar, which occurs in March of this year. It is the day the Jews celebrated their freedom and rested from freeing themselves from their enemies.
There are several ways that Purim is observed.
- Jews who observe Purim generally begin with a short, three day fast, in memoriam of the fast Esther and the Jewish people in Persia completed before she approached the king.
- Many begin the party and feast by reading from the book of Esther, or the megillah, and remembering the story of the Purim miracle.
- We celebrate by giving to charity and helping the poor.
- We honor the memory of Esther by sending food gifts to friends and family in celebration of the day
- We host a large, festive feast in memory of the feast Esther created for the king and the celebratory feasts that occurred after the Jewish deliverance. This feast generally begins at sundown and last late into the evening. It typically includes singing, wine, words read from the Torah, and plenty of food for everyone.
Are you ready to celebrate Purim? Whether you’re sending food gifts to your friends or attempting to create a feast your entire family will remember for years, count on our Ottawa catering company to help you celebrate. The food platters from Kettleman’s Bagel Co. can easily be ordered and delivered to your home or the home of a friend so you can concentrate on celebrating the meaning of this day. Call Kettleman’s Bagel Co. today to place your order.