Friday, February 22, 2013

Fun Friday Finds: Celebrating Purim

By Sharon Parker
Arty Didact

The joyful celebration of Purim takes place this weekend, beginning Saturday evening and continuing through Sunday. It's a Jewish celebration of a historic event, when Queen Esther, a Jewish woman married to the king of Persia in the fourth century BCE, successfully thwarted a plot to annihilate the Jews of Persia.

Celebrants will gather to hear a reading of the Megilla, or book of Esther, that tells the story; they'll give  gifts of food to friends, and also give to the poor; and they'll share a festive meal. The story is often also acted out or performed with puppets, and, as you can imagine, children are much involved in the festivities.

When looking for items made by Minnesota artists and crafters to mark this joyous holiday, I looked for representations of the symbols and general festive nature of the day, such as:

Triangle pendant by Beadbijoux
Triangles to represent the traditional treat Hamantaschen, a filled cookie with the edges folded over to form a triangle. Haman was the villain of the Purim story, and the reenactments of the story often portray him as something of a goon. The name may actually be derived from the Yiddish word montashn, for the poppyseed-filled pouches, adapted to make a play on the name of Haman.

Noisemakers -- traditionally graggers, a kind of spinning rattle -- used to drown out the name of Hamen whenever he is mentioned in the reading of the story. Here we have wooden rattles shaped like guitars. Celebrants also stomp their feet and clap their hands.

Festive attire and decor, such as the boy in the mask and the colorful stained glass mobile.

Honey and beeswax items from Sweet Bee Honey
The number 14, because Purim is celebrated on 14 Adar on the Jewish calendar.

A gift of honey and other items such as a person might give to a friend to mark the occasion. It is also customary to donate to charity on this occasion.

The clarinet and other representations of klezmer music, and children dressed in a manner similar to traditional klezmer band members (especially the little boy in the fedora -- does he not look like he should be leading a klezmer band?). If you visit the collection on Etsy (the link is below the image), you'll find a link to listen to a Minnesota klezmer band playing a Purim tune.

The Queen of Hearts is standing in for Queen Esther in our pictorial telling of the tale, and the furry monster could perhaps be Haman (though he doesn't really look evil at all, does he?)

Finally, we raise a glass or two of wine, to toast Queen Esther and the happy outcome of the story. Surely we can all share in celebrating that.

Click here to visit the collection on Etsy