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Mama Deb
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Mama Deb [userpic]

I have done absolutely nothing for Purim this year (beyond telling the person who organizes the synagogue gift exchange to put us down for everyone because the price for everyone is the same as if we bought just for the people we would have given anyway *and* there was the dinner thing, so it's kinda something we should do. Anyway, that doesn't count for actual mischloach manot, according to our rabbi. It's just a way of fundraising for the synagogue and also so we don't need to give them other gifts.)

The rules of Purim observance are as follows:

1. Listening to the Book of Esther in the evening and during the day.
2. Giving to the poor.
3. Giving a gift of at least two kinds of food to a friend during the day - food that can be eaten immediately without further prep, although so long as there are two such items, you can also give nice tea bags or coffees or such.
4. Having a festive meal during the day.

The official customs of Purim are these:

1. Wearing costumes. Cross-dressing is permitted.
2. Blotting out the sound of Hamon's name as it comes up in the reading, usually using noisemakers. This is fun Purim night and, often, perfunctory Purim morning. I've discovered that a full key ring makes a great "grogger".
3. Getting drunk. This is, of course, the favorite custom for teenage boys.
4. Performing little skits, called "Purim Shpiels". This is often combined with 1 and 3.
5. Writing parodies of religious articles and putting out parody issues of magazines and newspapers. We call these "Purim Torahs. "
6. The custom of "half-shekels." We are required, as part of the Torah census taking, to give "half shekels" before Pesach. This is when most people do it - synagogues put out three silver dollars. We buy them by donating money, pick them up and put them back down again. (Yes, we're changing money. And we usually put in more money than we need to - but this goes to the synagogue itself.)

The unofficial customs of Purim are:

1. Buying/sending the most elaborate packages possible
2. Recycling goodies for last minute gifts
3. Throwing up in the street because the last time you got this drunk was a year ago (second favorite custom for yeshiva boys.)

As you can see, Purim has aspects of most major non-Jewish holidays - gifts, food, costumes and drinking, plus religious services. Christmas, New Year's, Thanksgiving *and* Halloween! (Except, you know - the kids *deliver* treats instead of demand them.)

So. Our plans? This year, Purim is Saturday night, which means the fast is pushed back to Thursday, not that I fast. And it also means there's no time between Shabbat and the first reading to put on a costume.

We'll give out the mishloach manot on Sunday. This year, given my lack of planning, will be gift bags with pretzels, hamentaschen, fruit, grape juice and recycled goodies. The seudah, which we hope will include brother, mom and future stepdad, will be Middle Eastern Lamb Stew and couscous. If we can get my brother-in-law and his family, *he'll* get salmon. The synagogue takes care of the charity - usually, something that goes directly to feeding the poor. We just give them money.

And Monday morning? All those goodies? Turn into chametz. :)


All of this sounds fascinating...

And if it's not a problem, can I get the recipe you'll use for the Middle Eastern Lamb Stew? amyrayh's mom always made us lamb for Easter, and now that she's gone, I don't have any of her recipes [or we can't find them], and I'd love to make something lamb-related in her honor...

My lamb stew:

2lbs lamb (necks, shoulder, breast - whatever)
Pound of carrots (precut "baby" carrots work just fine)
Head of celery, chopped fine
One large spanish onion
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 cloves garlic, sliced fine
Oil for browning
Balsamic vinegar
1 stick of cinnamon (or just a pinch of ground)
1/2 tsp cumin
Bay leaves
Handful or two of dried fruit - I prefer dried cherries, but any dried fruit will do. Chop up anything larger than a dried cherry.
Slivered almonds or pine nuts. You can toast them(put in a very hot dry frying pan and stir constantly until they develope brown spots. Remove from heat and place in heat-resistant bowl.)if you want and have time.

Cube meat if not bony, and brown in oil. Remove and saute the onions,garlic and celery. This is the time to put in the dried spices and the bay leaves. When the vegetables are soft, add in the carrots and sweet potatoes, plus water to cover. If you have broth, that's good, too. Add the meat, and any more water, and the dried fruit. Bring to boil and let simmer, covered until the meat and sweet potatoes are tender - 30 minutes to an hour.. Add a shot of vinegar and the nuts and let simmer for another fifteen minutes. Taste and correct seasoning. Remove the cinnamon stick. Mash a couple of the sweet potatoe chunks if you want it a bit thicker.

Serve over couscous or rice.

Oh, that sounds yummy! Thanks!

Thank you for writing this - I noticed that Purim was just after Shabbat this year, and was wondering. I suspect that TBS will have costumes anyway.

BTW, my father is going to be doing some kind of on-line haggadah writing thing, appropriate (or so I hope) for all denominations. Would you like to participate?

Thank you for asking. Not my thing, I'm afraid.

(no subject) - (Anonymous)

I have a feeling that it's not a coincidence, but that no one will admit to that. :)

Maybe the costumes. But the drinking, the whole sense of "topsy-turvy day" and inversion of usual society, goes back to the Talmud, and in part to the Megillah itself. Long before European carnivals. Isn't Carnival more linked to Fat Tuesday, before Lent begins?

Yes ^_^

Stolen from Wiki:
The inspiration for the carnival lies in the fact that during Lent, traditionally no parties may be held and many foods, such as meat, are forbidden; the forty days of Lent serve to commemorate the Passion of Jesus. It is natural for people to have the desire to hold a large celebration at the last possible opportunity before fasting.

Parts of the carnival traditions, however, likely reach back to pre-Christian times. The ancient Roman festival of the Saturnalia is a probable origin of the Italian carnival. The Saturnalia, in turn, may be based on the Greek Dionysia and Oriental festivals. Many local carnival customs in other areas are also based on local pre-Christian rituals, for example the elaborate rites involving masked figures in the Swabian-Alemannic carnival.

In Christianity, the most famous traditions, including parades and masquerading, are first attested from medieval Italy. The carnival of Venice was for a long time the most famous carnival. From Italy, carnival traditions spread to Spain, Portugal, and France. From France, they spread to the Rhineland of Germany, and to New Orleans. From Spain and Portugal, they spread to Latin America. Many other areas have developed their own traditions.


The origin of the name "carnival" is disputed. According to one theory, it comes from the Latin carrus navalis ("ship cart")[1], referring to a cart in a religious parade, such as a cart in a religious procession at the annual festivities in honor of the god Apollo. Other sources, however, suggest that the name comes from the Italian carne levare or similar, meaning "to remove meat", since meat is prohibited during Lent.[2]

[2] makes more sense to me, as carnivale got its big start in Italy after Italian had split from latin.

I question the Saturnalia connection, since Saturnalia and Kalends are at Xmas-time.

I'm not sure if the author is claiming they're related because of the timing, or because of the style of the festivities. One could make a case for the style at any rate. Street festivals, masks, topsy-turvy of social order. Father Tillman [Roman Catholic] goes with the Italian origin of the name, and our parish does Pancake dinners like the English Shrove Tuesday.

yay Purim!

I'm woefully underprepared for my own festive weekend (working Friday and Saturday in a marginally-affiliated community, then hightailing it back to My Own City so I can enjoy the last year of Purim madness with my classmates), but I'm looking forward to it nonetheless.

the last line of your post, however, was what really scared me - I'd been happily blocking out the fact that Pesach prep technically starts in less than a week. eeek!!!

It's why I think of Purim as The Great Chometz Exchange.