"And lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world" (Matt. 28:20b)

7 Unusual Things You May Not Know About Purim

I bet you didn’t know these things about Purim…

Esther was a Jew who lived in Shushan and was chosen from among all the beautiful, young virgins in the country to be Queen to King Ahasuerus. Of course, you knew that about Purim…

Esther - 7 things you may not know about Purim -photo of Queen Esther prepared to meet her King

I bet you didn’t know...

Queen Esther would have followed the laws of kashrut (dietary laws) of Judaism. Accordingly, her diet would have consisted largely of legumes, since meat would not have been prepared properly and might even have been from forbidden animals. Thus, the tradition of eating beans and peas on Purim.

And I bet you didn’t know…

You need someone else to deliver your gifts of food (mishloach manot) to family and friends. These special gift baskets are to be sent to those you love, not hand delivered. But anyone can be that go-between, including the postal service or the kid next door who needs a few bucks.

Mishloach manot things you didn't know about Purim

And did you know…

There are two books in the Bible that don’t mention God’s name. They are Esther and Song of Songs. Also, Esther doesn’t make mention of the Temple, of prayers (although that would be suggested from the call to fast), and doesn’t even give a hat tip to kashrut (keeping kosher).

Maybe you didn’t know…

The Hebrew calendar is a lunar calendar, meaning that there are not a set 365 days as the solar calendar uses. One Hebrew year can have 353, 354,355, 383, 384, or 385 days. Crazy? Not really. This is to prevent holidays from falling on the wrong day of the week, and 7 times in 19 years an entire month is added to the calendar.

When a leap year occurs, the calendar has 13 months and 384 days. The common, regular year is 12 months with 354 days. Usually, months with uneven numbers have 30 days and those with even numbers have 29 days. The regular (kesidrah) year lengths as well as the leap years can be lengthened (shlemah years) or shortened (cheserah) by a day. Purim in leap years occurs during Adar II. The next leap year occurs in 2024.

And perhaps you didn’t know…

If you live in a walled city, you celebrate Purim one day later than those who live outside the walls. The Rabbis decided that if a person lived in a city that has been walled since Joshua, Purim is celebrated on the 15th of Adar. This is called “Shushan Purim.” This is because the Jews inside Shushan (a walled city) fought for two days, whereas those who lived in the countryside only needed one day to defeat the enemy.

Or, did you know that…

Some scholars think the Book of Esther may not have actually happened. They theorize that the story of Esther may have ben adapted from a Babylonian story. They believe that the pagan god Marduk is Mordecai and Ishtar (where the Christian Easter comes from) became Esther.

About Purim

Finally, did you know…

The favorite sweet of Purim is hamantaschen (oznei Haman in Hebrew), a three cornered cookie, which may have been designed to symbolize Haman’s ears. This probably came from the custom of cutting off a criminal’s ears before execution. Others say they symbolize Haman’s pockets or his hat. One theory says that the three corners represent the three patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It is believed that they gave strength to Esther so she could save the Jews. Yet another theory has it that the cookies symbolize Haman’s pockets since the German word tasche means “pouch” or “pocket.” (Find my favorite hamantaschen recipe and tips here.)

To repeat what the late radio host Paul Harvey always said, “Now you know the rest of the story.” Harvey was a Jew.

Want to learn some Hebrew?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email