On the Biblical calendar there is a minor festival/celebration known as Purim (Hebrew: "Lots") English Feast of Lots, a joyous Jewish festival commemorating the survival of the Jews who in the 5th century B.C., were marked for death by their Persian rulers. The story is related in the Tanak Book of Esther. The Name of G-d is not written in the story which has been understood as an important message for the ages: "HaShem's salvation is sometimes concealed from clear view but never-the-less, working behind the scenes." As a result of this "concealment" it has become a custom to dress in costume for the holiday. This practice is also derived from the fact that Esther (Hadassah) concealed her true identity as a Jewess until the very end of the story. It is because of this holiday practice that some have wondered if Purim is somehow related to Halloween? The answer is clearly no. In fact, Halloween is almost a direct antitheses to the biblical holiday of Purim. The comparison of the two festivals will be discussed below.
The origin of Purim is found in the scriptures, specifically in the book of Esther. It is a festival about and as a result of the saving power of HaShem, the G-d of Israel and Creator of the World. Halloween is a pagan festival whose origin comes from the Druids. Halloween is a festival celebrating satan (cursed be he) and his demons.
The theme of Purim is one of joy; celebrating life, salvation and the goodness of HaShem. Halloween is a celebration of death and darkness. The focus of Halloween is on ghouls, ghosts, goblins, horror, murder, zombies and the works of demons.
Purim costumes are fun and festive. They are intended to highlight the message of "concealment" in the story. That is to say, salvation is concealed. The costumes remind us (in a fun way) that even if we cannot "see" the hand of G-d, He is always working for your good! By wearing costumes we are imitating the King of kings. The costumes of Halloween are intended to imitate the demonic world of ghosts and wicked spirits. Originally, they were worn to make demons and spirits "think" that the wearer was one of them.
READING THE WORD
The central custom of Purim is reading the book of Esther. The book is read with much joy and festivity (celebrating our deliverance). As a result, people of all ages shear the Word of G-d ad their hearts are refocused on HaShem. Furthermore, the holiday begins with a fast (Ta'anit Esther) 9on the 13th of Adar in remembrance of Esther and Mordechai's fast from the story. We pray and seek HaShem even before we begin the festivities.
Halloween, to the contrary, has absolutely no scriptural focus. In fact, participants are often occupied with ghost stories, tales of demonic activities and even dabbling in mock incantations. Jews go to the synagogue to hear the scriptures. People who celebrate Halloween often go to "haunted houses" to be entertained by themes of wickedness and evil.
TRICK OR TREAT VS. MISHLOACH MANOT
During Purim children and adults make gift baskets of food and treats called mishloach manot "sending of portions" to give to friends and those in need. The emphasis is on blessing others, giving and helping the needy to have a great holiday. Halloween is famous for trick or treating which is a custom of demanding something from a stranger and threatening them with a prank if they fail to comply. Looking at the two festivals in this light, one can see that Purim is about giving and Halloween about taking.
As the reader can clearly see, there is certainly no correlation between Halloween and Purim, G-d forbid. One might even say that Purim is a righteous and holy alternative to the secular and n3ew-pagan Halloween festival. At Purim, children and adults have parties, food, games, treats and fun with a focus entirely on the G-d of the Bible. Perhaps it's time to throw your lot in the the Jews and Purim!
The article below was published in 1926 in the 13th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica.
ORIGINS OF HALLOWE'EN
Halloween had its origins in the festival of Samhain among the Celts of ancient Britain and Ireland. On the day corresponding to November 1 on contemporary calendars, the new year was believed to begin. That date was considered the beginning of the winter period, the date on which the herds were returned from pasture and land tenures were renewed. During the Samhain festival the souls of those who had died were believed return to visit their homes, and those who had died during the year were believed to journey to the otherworld. People set bonfires on hilltops for relighting their hearth fires for the winter and too frighten away evil spirits, and they sometimes wore masks and other disguises to avoid being recognized by the ghosts thought to be present. It was in those ways that beings such as witches, hobgoblins failures, demos came to be associated with the day. The period was also thought to be favorable for deviation on matters such as marriage, health, and death. When the Roans conquered the els in the 1sr century ce, they added their own festivals of Feral, commemorating the passing of the dead, and of Pomona, the goddess of the harvest.
HALLOWE'EN, or All Hallows Eve, the name given to thee 31st of October as the vigil of Hallowmas or All Saints' Day. Though now down as little else but the eve of the Christian festival, Hallowe'en and its former attendant ceremonies long antedate Christianity. The two chief characteristics of ancient Hallowe'en were the lighting f bonfires and the belief that of all nights in the year this is one during which ghosts and wishes are most likely to wander abroad. Now on or about the 1st of November the Druids held their great autumn festival an lighted fires in honor of the Sun-god in thanksgiving for the harvest. Further, it was a Druidic belief that on the eve of this festival Saman, for of death, called together the wicked souls that within the past twelve months had been condemned to inhabit the bodies of animal. Thus it is clear that the main celebrations of Hallowe'en were purely Druidical, and this is further proved by the fact that in parts of Ireland the 31st of October was and even still is known as Oidhche Shamhna, "Vigil of Saman." On the Druidic ceremonies were grafted some of the characteristics of the Roman festival in honour of Pomona held about the 1st of November, in which nuts and apples, as representing the winter store of fruits, played an important part. Thus the roasting of nuts and the sport known as "apple-ducking" -- attempting to seize with the teeth an apple floating in a tub of water, --were once the universal occupation of the young folk in medieval England on the 31st of October. The custom of lighting Hallowe'en fires survived until recent years in the highlands of Scotland and Wales. In the dying embers it was usual to places saw many small stones as there were persons around, and next morning a search was made. If any of the pebbles were displaced with was regarded as certain that the person represented would die with the twelve months.
WHAT IS PURM?
The festival of Purim is celebrated every year on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Adar (late winter/early spring). It commemorates the salvation of the Jewish people in ancient Persia from Haman's plot "to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews, young and old, infants and women, in a single day."
The story in a nutshell:
The Persian empire of the 4th century BCE extended over 127 lands, and all the Jews were its subjects. When King Ahasuerus had his wife, Queen Vashti, executed for failing to follow his orders, he orchestrated a beauty pageant to find a new queen. A Jewish girl, Esther, found favor in his eyes and became the new queen--though she refused to divulge the identity of the nationality.
Meanwhile, the anti-Semitic Haman was appointed prime minister of the empire. Mordechai, the leader of the Jews (and Esther's cousin), defied the king's orders and refused to bow to Haman. Hamas was incensed, and convinced the king to issue a decree ordering the extermination of all the Jews on the 13th of Adar--a date chosen by a lottery Haman made.
Mordechai galvanized all the Jews, convincing them to repent, fast and pray to G-d. Meanwhilee, Esther asked the king and Haman to join her for a feast. At the feast, Esther revealed to the king her Jewish identity. Hamas was hanged, Mordechai was appointed prime minister to his stead, and a new decree was issued--granting the Jews the right to defend themselves against their enemies.
On the 13th of Adar, the Jews mobilized and killed many of their enemies. On the 14th of Adar, they rested and celebrated.
a) Reading of the megillah (book of Esther), which recounts the story of the Purim miracle.
b) Giving money gifts to the poor.
c) Sending gifts of food to friends.
d) A festive Purim feast.
It is also customary for children to dress up in disgusting costumes.