Can you imagine what a combination of Purim, the carnivalesque festival where Jews dress up and drink to oblivion to celebrate their deliverance from death in Persia, and St. Patrick’s Day, the Irish national holiday celebrated with lashings of Guinness and people wearing green, might look like?
This year, you don’t have to. For the first time since 1995, Purim and St. Patrick’s Day festivities coincide in one weekend. Purim starts on Saturday March 15 and finishes on Sunday March 16 this year, immediately preceding St. Patrick’s Day on March 17.
The juxtaposition of Jewish and gentile holidays is becoming something of a habit. Last year the first day of Hanukkah, November 28, was also Thanksgiving, which gave birth to the frankenholiday of “Thanksgivukkah.” Yet the last time Purim and St. Patrick’s Day fell on the same exact day was in 1957. And the next time is only eight years away, in 2022, which gives us time to think of a suitable name for the holiday.
So, while Irish pubs around the world get ready for St. Pat’s and the bars full of revellers that it brings, in Tel Aviv this year they are looking at a double-whammy weekend.
At Israel’s first-ever Irish pub, Molly Blooms, owner Robert Segal isn’t “worried about the overlap,” or that people won’t make it to the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations after a weekend of Purim partying.
Molly Bloom’s annual Irish party, which has been held since the pub opened in 2000, is a “standing room only” event, says Segal, noting that “at some stage the police always close the road out here because it gets so busy.”
This year, the vibe will definitely be more harp than hamentaschen in the room. “Purim is Purim,” he says, “But we are an Irish pub celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.”
Each holiday in its place
On Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Avenue, the Temple Bar Irish Pub is looking forward to the two back-to-back parties.
Although a poster on its Facebook page advertises the Purim festivities with a woman dressed in typical St. Patrick’s Day garb, the bar’s manager, Adam Mizrahi, says they are keeping the parties separate to preserve each one’s distinct character. Thursday through Sunday will be dedicated to Purim, and everyone will be in costumes - including the staff, Mizrahi says. But St. Patrick’s Day is “a completely different party with a totally Irish atmosphere,” meaning all-Irish music and freebies from Guinness.
At Tel Aviv’s legendary hangout for native English-speakers, Mike’s Place, the management likewise believes that Purim is Purim and St. Pat’s is St. Pat’s. Mike’s Place isn’t strictly speaking an Irish pub, but St. Patrick’s Day is still part of their tradition. When the bar opened in the ‘90s it was the first pub in Israel to celebrate the holiday, says Canadian Dave Beck, a co-owner who used to be a customer. The weekend at Mike’s will be dedicated to Purim, with “a band, a costume competition, prizes and a whole lot of drunk people,” says Beck. St. Patrick’s Day will see green beers, leprechaun shots, Irish music mixed in with rock and blues, and the whole building lit up outside in green.
Were they at all overwhelmed by the doubly busy weekend ahead? Leave off, says Beck: “We are always ready for a party.”
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