What are you celebrating today?
Finally, my “Kiss Me I’m Jewish Button” is perfectly, interculturally, correct. Today is both the Jewish holiday of Purim and the Irish holiday of St. Patrick’s Day. Because Jewish holiday dates are determined by the Hebrew calendar, the last time this happened was in 1984!
Why Connect the Two?
As a marketer, not connecting the two seems like a lost opportunity. But even if I wasn’t predisposed to that, our brains are conditioned for it. Our brain holds have everything we’ve learned, seen, experienced to date, neatly filed on their little shelves in the Hippocampus portion of our brains. When we see something new our brain indexes with other “like things.”
Quick Background: The Stories of Purim and St. Patrick’s Day
Purim tells the story of the great beauty, Queen Esther, wife of King Ahasuerus and cousin to the “good guy” in the story, Mordechai. When Mordechai refused to bow down to the King’s advisor, Haman (the “bad buy” in the story) Haman ordered the killing of all Jews. Esther boldly defied the royal protocol of the time (if you talk to the King directly you die) and convinced her husband to not kill the Jews, and the King rescinded Haman’s order and killed Haman instead.
St. Patrick’s Day, as described to me by Meaghan, a real Irish person, “started as a celebration of Saint Patrick who was a slave that escaped and brought Christianity to Ireland. So, it used to be a religious holiday but now it’s definitely more secular. It’s a celebration of the Irish heritage/culture specifically in the U.S., after thousands and thousands of Irish immigrants came here and were a huge part of building of the country.”
And Now, the Amazing Parallels Between Purim and St. Patrick’s Day
- Both Holidays Originated the 5th Century.
For St. Patrick’s Day it’s when St. Patrick died, on March 17, 461. CNN says that Purim was first celebrated in the 5th century. Actually, that’s AD for St. Paddy’s, BC for Purim, but still a 5th century.
- Both Holidays are Celebrated with Drinking and Merry Making.
According to the Talmud—a Jewish text—in the Megillah—the specific document for Purim—line 7b—”a person is obligated to drink on Purim until you cannot tell the difference between “Blessed is Mordechai” and “Cursed is Haman.” (Chabad.org)
As far as St. Patrick’s Day, according to “the kegerator.com” The St. Patrick’s Day tradition began as a feast day held in honor of St. Patrick on the anniversary of the day he died. Christians are allowed to put aside their Lenten restrictions on food and alcohol consumption on this day, which is why excessive drinking has become so permanently linked to the celebration. (Kegerator.com)
- Both Encourage Special Celebratory Costumes.
For the Jews on Purim, it is typical to wear masks and dress in costume. For me, I’m delighted to have a chance to wear hideous bridesmaid dresses that are perfect for a Queen Esther costume. We dress up as the main characters of the story. While not directed by any religious document, apparently this has been a custom since the 13th century in Italy—and may have been inspired by carnivals for Fat Tuesday. (Haaretz)
Wearing Green on St. Patricks’ day has gone well beyond just being for those from Ireland. According to IrishCentral, “wearing green on Saint Patrick’s Day is supposed to make you invisible to leprechauns. They will pinch you as soon as you come upon their radar if you don’t wear green.”
Of course there are many more traditions for each holiday, from fasting and carnivals (Purim) to from four-leaf clovers and Céilí music and dance.
And There’s Always Food.
Both holidays (as most) are celebrated with typical foods. Hamantaschen, a delicious triangle shaped (to recall the three-cornered hat worn by Haman), jelly filled cookies (prune, poppyseed or your favorite) for Purim. For St. Patrick’s Day it’s Irish soda bread and corned beef and cabbage. Those have nothing in common whatsoever, but combined, could make a great, intercultural meal. Washed down with your favorite wine or green beer.