The Jewish holiday of Purim occurs annually in late winter or early spring, dependent upon the Hebrew calendar. The festival is a period of upbeat celebration including feasts, costumes, and gift-giving.
If you are observing Purim this year but aren’t sure when it begins or what to expect, here’s what you need to know:
When Is Purim 2019?
On the Hebrew calendar, Purim is celebrated on the 14th day of the month Adar, which is the 12th month in the Hebrew calendar. This year, that means that Purim begins on Wednesday, March 20 at sundown and lasts through Thursday, March 21. In Jerusalem, the holiday concludes on March 22. According to HebCal.com, the Fast of Esther (Ta’anit Esther) lasts from dawn to dusk on March 20, before the start of Purim celebrations.
Last year, Purim was observed from Wednesday to Thursday, too, although the holiday was earlier in the year, falling on February 28 until Thursday, March 1. Next year, 2020, Purim will be on Monday, March 9 until Tuesday, March 10.
Chabad.org explained that Jewish holidays begin after sunset because, in the Jewish calendar, that is when each day is actually said to begin. In the story of the creation of Genesis, the days are marked as “And it was evening, and it was morning; day one,” “And it was evening, and it was morning; the second day,” and so on. They also suggest that this is way of setting up the calendar parallels the Jewish way of thinking about life and its ups and downs: “First the night, then the day. Darkness is a pathway to the sunrise hiding behind it. A challenge comes our way only to help us tap in to and reveal our inner powers that have until now remained unfathomed.”
What Is the Purim Holiday?
Chabad.org says that Purim is a festival that “commemorates the salvation of the Jewish people in ancient Persia from Haman’s plot ‘to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews, young and old, infants and women, in a single day,’ as recorded in the Megillah.” Purim translates to “lots” in Persian, and was named after the lots Haman threw “to determine when he would carry out his diabolical scheme.” @jew_london wrote on Twitter that “Today is the day that the Jewish world celebrates the resistance to AntiSemitism. We remember Queen Esther who valiantly resisted Haman’s genocide against Jews. We are all part of the living resistance, when stand proud & celebrate being Jewish.”
According to MyJewishLearning.com, there are several common practices to observe when celebrating Purim. These including giving gifts to poor people, reading the Megillah (which tells the story of Purim), eating a festival meal called a seudah, giving food gifts to friends, and eating triangle shaped cookies called hamantaschen. Many photos of Israeli adults and children in costumes have been circulating social media today for the holiday, too, which Chabad.org explains is a tradition meant to serve as an “an allusion to the nature of the Purim miracle, where the details of the story are really miracles hidden within natural events.”