Purim Around the World
Nancy Rosenbaum, associate producer

“Purim is…a holiday traditionally observed not in the synagogue…or even around the family table, but on the street and in nightclubs, surrounded by friends.”
—from “Unmasked” by Liel Leibovitz

Last month, Jews around the world celebrated Purim, a holiday commemorating the survival of the Jewish people in the face of near-extermination.  The Purim story as it’s told in the biblical Book of Esther features a lively cast of characters including a Jew-hating villain named Haman (an Iago-like advisor to the king) a savvy eavesdropper (Mordechai) and the beautiful queen Esther who ultimately saves the day. Masquerading is a central theme as Queen Esther conceals her Jewish identity throughout most of the story.

We’ve gathered these images of Purim celebrations from around the world to capture the holiday’s carnivalesque festivity. Enjoy!

Orthodox man celebrates Purim. Jerusalem, 2008.
Jerusalem, 2010. (photo: Marco Longari/AFP/Getty Images)

Purim party. Amsterdam, 2006
Amsterdam, 2006. (photo: uruandimi/Flickr)

Jews all over world commemorate Purim with costumes, parties, and parades.

Purim Moscow
Moscow, 2010. (photo: no_problema/Flickr)

Purim Philadelphia
Philadelphia, 2009. (photo: sesu-chan/Flickr)

Purim party - Judean Desert. Israel, 2008
Judean Desert, Israel, 2008. (photo: Leandroid/Flickr)

Purim party - Judean Desert. Israel, 2008
Judean Desert, Israel, 2008. (photo: Leandroid/Flickr)

Purim plays (also known in the Yiddish as Purim Spiels) have been staged for generations.

Cast of Purim play. New York City, 1936
New York City, 1936. (photo: Center for Jewish History/Flickr)

Girl dressed up for Purim. Jerusalem, 2008.
Jerusalem, 2008. (photo: Galit Lubetzsky/Flickr)

Lots of people eat hamentashen — a triangle-shaped cookie with a fruity filling that’s representative of the villainous Hamen’s hat, or alternately his ear.

Granville Island, Vancouver, British Columbia, 2009 (photo: Greenbelter/Flickr)

Purim party. Moscow, 2010.
Moscow, 2010 (photo: no_problema/Flickr)

Noisemakers called “graggers” are used to drown out the sound of the villainous Haman’s name.

Jewish noisemakers or "graggers"
(photo: Fabrangen Havurah/Flickr)

Radical Purim party. Boston, 2008.
Boston, 2008 (photo: 1130am/Flickr)

According to the Talmud (Megillah 7b), one is obligated to drink on Purim until he does not know the difference between “cursed be Haman” and “blessed be Mordechai.”

Orthodox men celebrate Purim. Jerusalem, 2007.
Jerusalem, 2007 (photo: Yoav Lemmer/AFP/Getty Images)

Purim street party. Tel Aviv, 2006
Tel Aviv, 2006 (photo: Ran Z/Flickr)

Purim party. Amsterdam, 2006
Amsterdam, 2006 (photo: uruandimi/Flickr)

(lead photo: New York City, 2010. Photo: Nina Callaway/Flickr)

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