Send in the clowns! Children dress as cowboys, pandas, and even Donald Trump in colourful fancy-dress show as they celebrate the ancient festival of Purim in London
- Stamford Hill in north London was awash with colour as Jewish children dressed up for the festival of Purim
- Festival commemorates the survival of the Jewish people who had been marked for death in ancient Persia
- Typically the event would see parades through the streets but social distancing measures were in place
The streets of north London were awash with colour today as hundreds of Jewish children dressed up in celebration of the festival of Purim.
Little police officers, Beefeaters, bears, Dobby the House Elf and a Boris Johnson skipped through Stamford Hill as they honoured the centuries-old tradition.
Typically, the event would see parades through the streets but the Covid pandemic meant this year’s festivities were a pared-down, socially distanced affair.
Dating back some 2,500 years, the ancient festival commemorates the survival of the Jewish people who had been marked for death in ancient Persia.
It celebrates the courage of Esther, Queen of Persia, who stopped a genocide of her people after the king of Persia’s adviser, Haman, hatched a plan to murder all Jewish people.
These youngsters pulled out all the stops as they donned clown wigs, make up and fluorescent tights to mark the festival today
They look familiar: One child donned this rather unsettling costume in the likeness of PM Boris Johnson and former President Donald Trump
Allo’ Allo’ Allo’! These three youngsters looked ready to patrol the streets of London in their police get-ups
Bad Dobby! This Harry Potter fan became Dobby the House Elf for the festival of Purim today
One lucky little girl became a princess for the day – but still had to make her way to school with her mother
Siblings and friends wore matching dress for the day in London. Purim commemorates the defeat of Haman, the advisor to the Persian king, and his plot to massacre the Jewish people
This family were the best dressed in the neighbourhood – with dad even dressing up for the occasion too
Dating back some 2,500 years, the ancient festival commemorates the survival of the Jewish people who had been marked for death in ancient Persia
One arty family put on a colourful display as they strolled through the neighbourhood in north London today
THE MEANING BEHIND THE STORY OF PURIM
The Jewish holiday Purim commemorates the salvation of the Jewish people in the ancient Persian Empire from a plot intended to wipe them out.
The story, which is recorded in the Biblical Book of Esther, tells the tale of how an advisor to King Ahasuerus named Haman planned to kill all the Jews, only for his wicked plot to be thwarted by the king’s wife Esther and her adoptive father Mordecai.
Haman had selected a day on which he would annihilate the entire Jewish population and had sent out a decree bearing the King’s seal, ordering that every Jewish man, woman and child be killed.
But Esther – who had been chosen as Ahasuerus’s wife by taking part in a beauty contest and concealing the fact she was Jewish – later convinced the King to send out a new decree allowing the Jews to rise up and defend themselves – thus saving their lives.
The story is read out in synagogues while children traditionally get dressed up as Esther, or the King.
In the synagogue they are given football rattles and noisemakers to drown out Haman’s name.
In Israel, even adults go to work wearing costumes and dress up to go to the synagogue.
The Jewish holiday of Purim – which means ‘lots’ in ancient Persian – is celebrated every year on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Adar – which falls between late winter and early spring.
Jewish communities celebrate by listening to the Book of Esther.
Esther told Jews to celebrate the special day and now, people march in parades across the world wearing costumes in honour of Esther, who masqueraded as a non-Jew to unveil the plot.
The story forms the core of the Jewish festival of Purim, during which it is read aloud twice; once in the evening and again the following morning.
The ritual observance of Purim begins with a day of fasting on Adar 13, the day preceding the actual holiday.
Drunkenness is usually discouraged by Jewish law but it is considered a mitzvah – religious duty – to drink alcohol during the festival of Purim.
According to the tale, Haman’s ears were cut off as a part of his punishment. The cookies eaten on Purim, Hamantaschen, translate to ‘ears of Haman’.
People also eat seeds, because Esther only ate seeds while she lived in the King’s palace.
Jewish communities dress up for the festival and exchange gifts and make donations to the poor.
Costumes are worn on Purim in honour of Esther, who masqueraded as a non-Jew and dressed up as a queen to unveil the plot against her people
Purim typically includes costumes and elaborate public celebrations marking a story dating from fourth-century Persia that saw Jews defeat a murderous plot against them
Inspired by dressage and showjumping, these youngsters donned matching jodhpurs, boots and hats for the event
Parents pulled out all the stops as they dressed their children up for the day in colourful wigs and costumes