It’s Purim! Purim is also known as “Jewish Halloween” and celebrates the Bible story in the Book of Esther, where Mordecai and Esther saved the Jewish people from Haman, who was a grand vizier in the Persian empire under King Ahasuerus, traditionally identified as Xerxes I.
The events of Purim are recorded in the Bible in the Book of Esther when Haman’s plans are foiled in the city of Susa by Mordecai and his cousin and adopted daughter, Esther. Esther was a Jewish queen and the wife of King Ahasuerus. One day, Mordecai overheard a plot by two eunuchs to kill the king. Mordecai told Esther about the plans of the two conspirators and they were hanged.
King Ahasuerus did not know that Mordecai had saved his life.
Meanwhile, Haman the Agagite commanded Mordecai to pay obeisance to him. Mordecai declined, insulting the grand vizier, who then went to the king and informed him that the Jews were disloyal and that he would pay the king if he could exterminate them. But before this plot could unfold, Esther informed King Ahasuerus that Mordecai had saved his royal life.
Esther later revealed to the king that she, like Mordecai, was also a Jew. At the end of the story, Haman is hanged instead of Mordecai.
Since then, Purim has been celebrated as a Jewish holiday. One noticeable thing about Purim is the costumes; according to Chabad.org, “[t]he custom of wearing costumes on Purim is an allusion to the nature of the Purim miracle, where the details of the story are really miracles hidden within natural events.” It also suggested that the costumes refer to Esther’s hidden Jewry.
Other ways to celebrate Purim include partying and giving gifts to the poor or charity.
Purim begins at sunset on Wednesday, Feb. 28, and ends at sundown on Thursday, March 1, according to My Jewish Learning. The Hebrew calendar is a lunar calendar, and thus new days begin at sundown.