Tour virtual Purim parties around the world on Web

"King Achashverosh was Finnish with his disobedient wife Vashti. 'You Congo now!' he ordered her. After she had Ghana way, the king's messengers went Roman the land to find a new queen. And India end, the beautiful Esther won the crown…" Think you know everything about Purim? Think again.

As Judaism's happiest day of the year, we are familiar with the groggers, the masquerades and the hamantaschen. But how about the holiday snowmen, the human-shaped cakes and the 90 other Purims? These are just some of the Purim traditions you can visit on the World Wide Web. (Don't worry. We'll even get to that worldly retelling of the Purim story that led off this column.)

The best place to start for some global Purim traditions is at the Jewish Agency Education Department's Web site —

festivls/purim/pugnen07.html In Germany on Purim eve, torches containing gunpowder would be ignited. During the Megillah reading, the gunpowder exploded with a deafening noise. In Italy, youngsters would divide into two camps and throw nuts at each other. While in wintry Bukhara, a large "snow-Haman" was built near the synagogue.

After the meal, a bonfire was built and everyone gathered to sing while "Haman" melted. And how about that Salonikan tradition. "Haman-shaped" cakes were baked and placed on the window ledges until the festive Purim meal. During the meal, the cakes were sliced and eaten.

The Virtual Jerusalem Purim site —

vjholidays/purim/worldcus.htm — has also done a great job rounding up some traditions. In Cairo revelers would take to the streets in costumes riding donkeys dyed in stripes and patterns. In Lithuania, yeshiva students would get the opportunity to dress up as rabbis, deliver outrageous speeches and gently mock their teachers. In Yemen, bridegrooms would compete at the local Jewish court for the honor of buying the oil and wax used to light the synagogue during the Megillah reading.

And what about where it all started? In Persia, one of the wealthy men would host a huge Purim feast in his home for the whole community. During the meal, all would march out to watch an effigy of Haman being burned, while shouting, "May the memory of Amalek be erased!" As the fire went out, the children took turns jumping over the coals, just as they did during celebrations in talmudic times.

Ninety variations on the Purim festival have been created, including the Winz Purim, celebrated by the German community of Frankfort-on-Main. In the 17th century, Winz Fettmilch whipped up a pogrom against the Jewish community. Miraculously, the Jews were saved from complete destruction, Winz was punished, and the Jews celebrated their deliverance from their local Haman — org/jsource/vjw/frankfurt.html

And then there is "The World Famous Story of Purim" found at Rather than try to explain this piece of work, I'll leave it to you to wade through it. Here's how the story ends…as if you didn't know. (Best to read it aloud.)

"… Haman and his ten sons were hanged and went immediately to the Netherlands. And to Sweden the deal, the Jews were allowed to Polish off the rest of their foes as well. "You lost your enemies and Uganda friend," the king smiled. And that is why the Purim story Israeli a miracle. God decided to China light on His chosen people. So now, let's celebrate! Forget all your Syria's business and just be happy! Serb up some wine and Taiwan on!" Happy Purim!