Halloween and Purim

This article is inspired heavily by a great article I read on Chabad.org a few years ago. Sadly, I cannot remember who wrote the article, so I can’t give them due credit, but if you have any idea who the original author was, please let me know!

Tomorrow is October 31st, and for most of the Western world- young and old alike- that means it’s Halloween. Halloween is actually a pagan festival, but is not usually celebrated in the traditional Pagan way. Instead, it has become a byword for dressing up, drinking, and eating sweets. Just like another festival, namely Purim. But despite these similarities, there’s a huge difference between the two. Let’s think about it. On Halloween, children dress up as ‘evil’ characters, such as ghosts and demons. It’s normally adults who drink, in an attempt to evoke an immoral ‘party’ atmosphere, but the children have taken upon themselves the task of visiting adult’s houses and threatening them- with a trick- to obtain sweets.

Suddenly it doesn’t sound so much like Purim after all.

Purim is the other side of the coin. On Purim, children dress up as Mordechai or Esther- inspiring Jewish heroes who saved countless lives- or similarly admirable figures. Drinking, although commonplace, is in a totally different spirit to Halloween drinking, and there’s no debauchery whatsoever, because different genders are (almost always) separated! And finally, the issue of sweets. Rather than threatening grown-ups to get sweets, the children instead visit older people and give them gift packages, called mishloach manos. How unlike Halloween is that?

The message is clear. Why celebrate evil when you can celebrate good instead? Forget Halloween, and wait for Purim- it’s not actually that far off!

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