Purim always takes me back to my childhood in Israel, when a sense of festivity was in the air. The weeks leading up to Purim—starting this year on Saturday, February 23—entailed a big debate regarding what costume to choose. For a young child, choosing a costume was a difficult task that required lots of imagination and a sense of excitement. Ready-made costumes were not so common, and I enjoyed seeing my mother sewing, decorating or just changing regular clothes to fit the chosen character. As Purim got closer, the excitement grew. On the morning of the Purim celebration at our preschool, my brother and I woke up about two hours earlier than usual to dress up and allow time for makeup and a hairdo. I remember sitting at the kitchen table while my imma (mother) applied blush, eyeliner and lipstick to my face. I felt very special and festive.
Another fond memory was the baking of hamantashen, or, as they are named in Hebrew, Oznei Haman (the ears of Haman). I loved baking them with my mom. The smell and taste filled the entire house. We put the cookies and many other goodies in baskets and gave them away to friends, neighbors and family.
When I moved to the U.S. with my family 18 years ago, my daughter was only a baby. I wanted to share with her the beautiful memories I had as a child in Israel and make sure that she would have memories and experiences as rich as mine. We started listening to Purim songs a few weeks before the holiday. We decorated the house with clown figures that we made together, and we started talking about the costume she would wear. I went out of my way to make, together with my daughter, some of the pieces of the costume. We baked hamantashen and created and delivered mishloach manot (gift of food). We read many books and joined Purim celebrations in our community. We also added experiences I did not grow up with in Israel, such as listening to the Megillah reading at our temple.
Here are my suggestions for ways to celebrate Purim at home:
- Buy or create a costume (for you and your child)
- Join Purim celebrations in your community
- Make mishloach manot and give to friends and neighbors
- An easy way to make gifts is to decorate white paper plates with markers, crayons and stickers, and then package them with hamantashen (recipes here), tea bags and raisins (photo above)
- Watch Purim videos on YouTube (I recommend Shalom Sesame: Purim Street Parade, Shalom Sesame: Kids Talk about Purim and Purim Parade in the Streets of Nahariyya, Israel)
- Listen to Purim songs
- Read stories about Purim as a family (one of my children’s favorites is “Cakes and Miracles: A Purim Tale” by Barbara Diamond Goldin)