What's Purim All About and How to Make the Best Hamantaschen

Why do Jews dress up for Purim? ■ Why do Jews eat hamantaschen on Purim ■ Was Jesus the real villain in the Purim story? ■ And also: 15 hamantaschen recipes

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Children dressed up for Purim in Jerusalem, March 2021
Children dressed up for Purim in Jerusalem, March 2021Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

Purim is the most mysterious of Hebraic holidays. It suddenly appeared in the second century B.C.E., and the origin of the holiday, let alone its flagship text – the Book of Esther – are just as baffling. It seems the holiday failed to gain acceptance by all Jews until the early Middle Ages.

Purim marks the salvation of ancient Persian Jews from a plot to wipe them out. The story transpired in Shushan, the walled capital city of Persia, where Esther, a Jewish orphan, became queen to King Ahasuerus. She was then in a position to foil the schemes of Haman, the evil vizier who planned the genocide, and was alerted to the plot by Mordechai, her uncle.

The name of the holiday reflects the pur – the lot drawn by Haman to determine when exactly his (ultimately unsuccessful) plot to destroy the Jewish people was to be carried out.

Do you have a costume for Purim yet? Have you tasted the latest twist on the traditional Hamantaschen? Do you think it could work well with hot sauce? In any case, we have gathered some must-read stories on the origin of the holiday and its traditions, plus the best recipes for the Purim cookie.

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