Friday, March 21, 2008

Happy Spring/Purim/Vernal Equinox

In many parts of the world Spring has Sprung. For me, the yard came to life quite a while ago. The Orange tree in the backyard has it's tiny little blossoms out and they are just starting to open up. In a few weeks it will be in full bloom and we will be able to open the french doors at the back of the house and the fragrance will waft into the house and down the hallway. It only reaches about halfway as the scent is so subtle and mild it can't get further. It's already too late in the season here to plant things from seed. I now must find all my Spring plants sprouted in starter packs at the local garden shop. Since I don't get as buried under winter as other places the timing of Spring doesn't mean the same to me as it would if I were outside near the tulip bulbs with a blowdryer.

The Vernal Equinox does get me fairly excited. Finally, it's all downhill from here. The days get longer and I live to see the daylight. Sunshine and daylight make me VERY HAPPY.

But the activity that has me all agog today is Purim.

Nope, I'm not Jewish and I think this is why I get so excited. I live in a predominately Orthodox Jewish neighborhood. It's a very nice place to live. Because of restrictions on working on the Sabbath the neighborhood has a lot more foot traffic and in general feels more neighborhood-y than many parts of a big city. We see our neighbors. They stop and talk to us while we dig in our front yard and they walk to Temple. While I wouldn't go so far as to color them all with the exact same paintbrush, I feel safe to say that on the whole our the neighbors that we see come across as a little serious. But Purim, like Spring, seems to bring out the full bloom of color here.

Which is why it should not have seemed so shocking to see Austin Powers coming out of Temple yesterday but it was.
Oy Vey Baby, Yeah!

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Purim, the holiday marking the escape of the Persian Jews from a plot to exterminate them devised by Haman, vizier to King Ahasuerus who ruled Persia in the 5th century BC. The Book of Esther tells the story of the plot and the reversal of fate by which the community was saved.

There are a number of reasons for dressing in disguise on Purim. The simplest is that it is a remembrance and thanksgiving for how G-d saved us while staying anonymous. How behind the scenes G-d caused a miracle. G-d was "masked," so to speak -- disguised as "nature" -- so we also disguise ourselves, to remember this.

Another reason is to highlight the concept that even the Gentiles disguised themselves, pretending to be Jews.
They merely masqueraded as Jews. Thus, the custom has arisen to masquerade ourselves on Purim, to commemorate the miracle, whereby a complete turnabout caused the Gentiles to fear us and not kill us, as they had originally planned.
For Purim, my neighborhood goes nuts! There are "pop pop" cap snappers going off all day and night with royalty, gypsies and various midget synagogue leaders wandering amongst them.

Today we went for breakfast at Lulu’s just down the street where we sat outside and watched the world go by... Specifically we saw: Raggedy Anne, a Hatzoloh ambulance worker (lame - he just borrowed his dad’s vest), a cowboy, Mulan, three little maids from school – seriously they were three little girls dressed from the Mikado all walking together, a wicked witch, King Aurthur – that was someone’s dad driving a car, quite a few clowns with rainbow wigs and a Pippi Longstocking! All that was in just two blocks.

Who wants to be the Torah this year!?!

What's really funny is we saw a group of girls going out dressed as Hula dancers. In Orthodox Jewish tradition, women must keep arms, shoulders and legs covered so these were Hula dancers in traditional grass skirts and coconut bras over long black skirts and black turtlenecks. Obviously this costume company just threw together their advertising.

Or perhaps they going after the Kabbalah market as this was a photo taken last year at their Purim party.
Stop! Or my mother will shoot!


Rachel said...

I love the story of Esther. Whenever I was bored at church I would read either that or Ruth.

Carolyn said...

Tony and I dress up like a flapper and a cop all the time. If only we were Jewish so we'd have an actual EXCUSE for doing so.
Happy Purim and Spring! Go take a look at my blog to see how spring looks out here in the Chicago area.

Carolyn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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The T-Dude said...

Just for clarity. Carolyn wears the flapper costume. Well...most of the time.