The Purim celebration is sometimes called the Jewish Mardi Gras where people dress in costume and make a lot of noise. Each year Jewish children are told the story of Queen Esther who is the hero of Purim. Purim is a celebration that commemorates the survival of the Jewish community in ancient Persia. Haman, the King’s chief minister, falsely accused the Jews of not obeying the king’s laws, and so the Persian king planned to exterminate all the Jews in his kingdom. They were saved through the intervention of his queen, the beautiful Esther, who unbeknownst to the king is a Jew. The chief minister Haman is hanged by the king for his evil intentions, and Mordecai, Esther’s cousin who originally presented Esther to the king when he was searching for a bride, is elevated to the chief minister’s position.
The noise and partying come when the Megillat Esther, which is really the Book of Esther in the Old Testament, is read. Whenever Haman’s name is mentioned the noise makers and the booing is supposed to drown out the mention of Haman’s name.
After the reading, refreshments are served, including Haman Taschen which are fruit-filled pastries in the tri-corner shape of what is supposed to be Haman’s hat. Most of the children come dressed in costume but a few adults always join in the fun as well. This year children had the added fun of an air-filled boogie bouncer, and prizes were awarded at the end of the celebration to children who participated in creating art while sitting at their tables.