This festive holiday celebrates the rescue of the ancient Persian Jews from a plot to destroy them. The king's advisor, Haman, cast lots to choose the day for carrying out his plan. Esther, the Jewish queen, persuaded her husband to spare the Jews. Fasting on the day before Purim commemorates Esther's fasting before seeing the king to plead for the Jewish people. The "Megillah," the story of Purim, is read in the synagogue. Children twirl gragers (noisemakers) to drown out Haman's name each time it is mentioned. Homentashen, special pastries in the form of Haman's hat, are eaten. Gifts are distributed to the poor as well as exchanged among family and friends.
Recognizing the Festival/Holiday: The traditional food, homentashen, is available at most bakeries. "Happy Purim" or simply "Happy Holiday" are appropriate greetings.