The Joy of Purim

The Joy of Purim

Purim is a joyful Jewish festival that celebrates the Jews being saved from an official of the Persian Empire, Haman’s, plot to commit genocide by the brave actions of the Empire’s Jewish queen, Esther.

The Book of Esther says that the days of Purim should be days of ‘feasting and gladness’, so Jewish communities mark the joyful occasion by reciting passages from the Book of Esther in their Synagogue services and including a special addition with their usual prayers in honour of the festival.

Families enjoy a festive meal called Seudat Purim – customarily accompanied by a lot of wine – and exchange small gifts of food and drink with each other. Donating to charity and giving to the poor is also a very important aspect of this festival. Parties and costumes are very common, with Jerusalem even holding a whole parade to celebrate.

hamantaschen traditional purim pastries

Seudat Purim Foods

It’s customary for Jewish families to eat nuts, seeds, legumes, and green vegetables during their Seudat Purim meal, as these were the safe foods that Esther ate when she had no access to Kosher meals. People prepare Hamantaschen, or Haman’s pockets – a triangular pastry filled with a sweet poppy seed filling, as well as Kreplach, which is a kind of filled dumpling served in soup.


Synagogues around the country are welcoming their congregations for a special Purim service, with readings from the Book of Esther. Whenever the king’s advisor Haman’s name comes up, everyone stomps their feet, booing and hissing and waving noisemakers to drown him out. After the service people will give out small edible gifts to each other, and head home for their Purim meal. British Jews are generous to a fault, and during Purim it’s no different. The 2,300 Jewish charities in the UK enjoy an income of about £1.1 billion a year!

In areas with a high Jewish population, especially in London, there’s sometimes a colourful parade or street party too. Children, especially, enjoy the opportunity to dress up.

a purim parade in london
a purim parade in israel