As written in the Book of Esther, it means a "lot.” Purim is the plural form of the word `Pur', and thus means "lots.” The festival is called Purim because of the lots cast by Haman. The word Pur is also related to the Hebrew word `porer,' which means to dismantle, break, destroy, or break into crumbs.
Purim is around the corner. It has few reverberations outside of Synagogues and Hebrew schools in the United States. But when I was growing up in Israel, it was THE HOLIDAY for us kids. Think of it as Halloween for dress-up and merry making, and then take out the ghoulish creepers. Unless you consider the historic back story, which is re-told and re-read in synagogues at that time, and includes the first of many hateful men who set out to kill all the Jews.
I did win first prize once, in fifth grade. For the life
of me I can’t understand why. I can only assume my “Mad Man in Pajamas” was so
pathetic it was a pity-prize.
While we ate our rectangular filled cookies, the grown-ups were commanded to get so drunk they could not tell the difference between the evil Haman and the pious Mordechai. That’s the same as between the bad and the good, and the injunction to drink was a commandment, not a suggestion, folks.
Add to it that this holiday is named for “lots,” and extend that to the lottery, gambling, and other vices-- and you get one happy party. That it sometimes fell on or near my birthday didn’t hurt.
What can I say? I miss it.