The festival of Purim has four primary traditions and a number of localised customs. The primary traditions of Purim come from the Megillah – the scroll of Esther, and they are:
- Have a celebratory feast
A celebratory feast is traditionally eaten on the afternoon of Purim day. In Jewish tradition a feast is defined by the foods eaten and should include wine, bread and meat. Of course if someone is vegan or has allergies they should have a celebratory menu that suits their disposition.
- Provide gifts to the poor
This custom of giving Tzedaka is quite specific, the money should be given on Purim day and to two different people in need (essentially two separate acts of charity). The money given should be given to people who need the money for food and basic needs so that they can celebrate Purim along with the rest of the community.
- Share food with one another
Specifically, gift two ready to eat foods to another person (friends or family) and share in the celebrations so that nobody is alone.
- Read (or listen to) the Megillah of Esther
We listen to the megillah being read twice, once on the eve of Purim and once during the day of Purim. This is how we remind ourselves of the blessings and miracles of Purim and remember the evil of Haman and be motivated to eradicate such hate from the world.
We also have a tradition to fast the fast of Esther on the day leading up to purim. The fast begins from sun-up and ends on the evening that Purim starts (ie once its dark).
The customs of eating Hamantashen and dressing up as well as gathering to study the Torah are universally celebrated and have symbolic roots in the Purim story but aren’t mandatory. Many local communities around the world have unique traditions that evolved in the joyous celebration of Purim.