Here's a look at what you need to know about Purim, a Jewish holiday celebrating Queen Esther. In 2014, Purim will begin at sunset on March 15th.
Facts: Purim is the celebration of the story of Queen Esther of Persia.
The story is recounted in the Megillah, also known as the Book of Esther in the Bible.
The earliest observances of Purim are believed to date back to the 5th century B.C.
The Story: Purim is a celebration of the bravery of Queen Esther.
An orphan, Esther was raised by her relative Mordechai.
She married King Achashverosh, King of Persia, and was made Queen.
The King did not know she was a Jew because Mordechai had instructed her not to reveal her faith.
The villain of the story is Haman, the adviser to the king.
Haman hated Mordecai because Mordecai refused to bow down to him.
Haman then planned to exterminate all the Jews in Persia.
Mordechai convinced Esther to intercede on the Jews' behalf.
She fasted for three days to prepare herself, and asked the Jewish people to fast as well.
When she told the king he was outraged at Haman and ordered him to be hanged, saving the Jews.
The word "Purim" means "lots" and refers to the lottery that Haman used to choose the date for the massacre.
Traditions: The day before Purim is a day of fasting, to commemorate Esther's fasting.
Children often wear costumes to dress up as key characters from the Purim story.
There are three acts that are performed on Purim: - Giving two gifts of money, food or clothes to the poor. - Sending gifts of two different foods to friends. - Eating a festive meal consisting of meat and wine.