Jewish party festival including 24-hour drinking binge and wacky fancy dress

This time of year is commonly associated with St Patrick's Day and Spring Break.

But for the world's 15.2 million Jewish people, it's also known as the time when the festival of Purim is celebrated.

And all three of those events have one thing in common – alcohol.

Actually, two things if you include strange outfits you wouldn't normally be seen out in.

Without going into too much religious detail, Purim is when Jewish people celebrate the time when the evil Haman – who ran the Achaemenid Empire, which stretched from parts of Macedonia to a bit of India – was stopped in his plans from killing all of Persia's Jews.

And as the joke says, most Jewish holidays are about not dying, and then eating and drinking to celebrate.

It even says in a Jewish book known as the Talmud that we should drink on Purim until we can “no longer distinguish between (the words) arur Haman (Cursed is Haman) and baruch Mordechai (Blessed is Mordecai)” – basically, get so drunk you can't see straight.

Wine and vodka are the two most popular drinks during the 24 hours binge, which started last night (Wednesday, March 16).

And Jews will also attend the synagogue to hear the retelling of the story of what happened centuries ago.

Scottish journalist and antisemitism fighter Eve Barlow summed it up earlier this week, and touched upon the rise in antisemitism in the world today.

She said: “Purim is incredibly theatrical, excessively loud, and unabashedly fun.

“It's the least serious Jewish festival about one of the most serious tales in Jewish history.

“It's a time in which we let our boys and girls be the example and we embrace our inner child.

“It's a lesson in why we enjoy, not because we're safe but because everything is uncertain.

“Jews cannot afford for our environments to be secure in order to have a great time – we have to find ways of celebrating ourselves in places that wish we wouldn't.

“We steal opportunities to make light even when it's very dark.”

So, drunken chaos very often ensues, and in the UK the most heavily populated Jewish areas in cities such as London and Manchester turn into huge outdoor street parties – involving young and old – normally led by organisations should as Chabad.

Fancy dress has also become the go-to thing during Purim, with many attempting to win the prize for Most Talked-about Outfit of the Year.

This year, it appears that dressing as Covid testing kits is big in Israel, while honouring the Queen during her big jubilee year is a popular choice in the UK.

But in recent years, please for less drinking have come from those warning of the dangers of being drunk.

Yesterday, on Col Live, a woman called Liba Shaffer wrote: “Please don't drive dunk this Purim (or ever).

“Don't let anyone you know drive drunk.

It doesn't matter how well you know the person or not – if they are planning to get into a car either take away their keys or call the cops.

“My father, Gedaliah Yirachmiel ben Michael, was killed by a drunk driver.”

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