Which Jewish festival is also known as the 'Feast of Lots'?
Purim, meaning 'lots', is a Jewish festival celebrated every year on the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Adar. This falls roughly at the end of the winter or beginning of spring, but because the Hebrew calendar differs from the Gregorian calendar used by the majority of the Western world, it falls on a different date each year. In 2022, Purim begins on the night of Wednesday 16th March and continues through to Thursday 17th March.
The festival commemorates the salvation of the Jewish people in ancient Persia from Haman, an Achaemenid Persian Empire official, who planned to destroy and kill all Jews. This is recorded in the 'Book of Esther' or 'Megillah' in the Hebrew Bible. The name of the festival also stems from this story because Haman threw lots to determine when he would carry out his evil plan.
Every year, the story of Esther, who helped prevent Haman from carrying out the annihilation, is read out at Purim. Jews also give gifts of money and food to the poor before celebrating a meal of 'hamantaschen', three-cornered pastries filled with poppy seeds or other sweet fillings. The day before Purim, it is customary to fast, so this is often the first meal since the previous evening for many participants.
Purim is one of the liveliest Jewish festivals. It celebrates the survival of the Jewish people rather than focusing on atonement and repentance.