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.
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.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.
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.
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.
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.