On the holiday of Purim, it is customary to dress in costume to celebrate the victory of the Jews in ancient Persia. Wearing costumes represents how the miracle of Purim was disguised in other events, and helps preserve the dignity of the poor who ask for charity on this holiday.
The Story of Purim
In 4th century BCE, all Jews were part of the Persian Empire which was ruled by King Achashveros. When the king had his wife executed, he remarried a Jewish girl named Ester who kept her identity hidden when she became queen.
The king did not know that his new wife was Jewish, and appointed a man named Haman as prime minister. Haman was known for hating all the Jews, and created a plot to destroy them on a date he chose. Queen Ester discovered the evil plan, and fasted and prayed to G-d. Her prayers were answered, and she revealed her identity to her husband and convinced him to undo the decree and save the Jewish people.
Although it might not seem like a miracle at first glance, the story of Purim shows how G-d’s hand guided events to save the Jewish people. Ester disguised her identity, and the events of Purim disguised His actions to save the Jews. Purim is a miracle in disguise, and so we wear costumes on this day to honor the hidden miracle.
The second reason to mask your identity on Purim is to help those who ask for charity. It is the heart of our faith to give to those in need, especially on days when we honor His miracles. It is customary to give gifts of food on Purim, to makes sure that all Jewish people can celebrate the holidays with plenty.
Many of the people who need food on this holiday are poor or elderly, and cannot get groceries for themselves. Over one million homes in Illinois are on food stamps, and those people spend their holidays going hungry. Bringing food to those in need brings the Jewish people together on the holy days, and honors G-d’s love and generosity to the Jewish people. Wearing costumes helps to preserve the dignity of those who ask for charity, which is freely given to anyone in need.
Purim is a day to share wealth with those who are less fortunate, by making and giving food to all those in need. The miracle of Purim symbolizes G-d’s guidance in all parts of life, and shows His love and protection. Wearing costumes on this day reflects how His hand may sometimes be hidden, but it is always there to guide us.