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Purim in Canada

Purim marks the Jewish people’s deliverance from a royal death decree around the fourth century BCE, as told in the Book of Esther. Many Jewish Canadians celebrate it on the 14th day of the month of Adar in the Jewish calendar, which is in February or March in the Gregorian calendar.

Is Purim a Public Holiday?

Purim is not a public holiday. Businesses have normal opening hours.

Jewish Holiday Gift
Gift giving is a popular actitivity among Jewish Canadians during Purim.
Gift giving is a popular actitivity among Jewish Canadians during Purim.
©iStockphoto.com/Howard Sandler

What Do People Do?

Purim is a Jewish festival that celebrates survival in a foreign land or in exile. Many Jewish Canadians, especially children, listen to the Megilla (or Megillah). When the story of Esther is read out loud, graggers (or groggers), which are Purim noisemakers, are used to drown out the name of the villain in the story.  This man, named Haman, planned to kill the Jewish people in ancient Persia.  Queen Esther worked together with her cousin Mordecai to stop Haman’s plans.

Purim is a happy holiday in the Jewish calendar and is associated with costumes, hilarity, food, and fun. Many Jewish Canadians remember the dangers that their ancestors faced in exile and they celebrate the miracle of their existence every Purim. Purim gift baskets are exchanged on this occasion. These baskets are often filled with hamantashen, different types of candy, or cookies. Hamantaschen is a Purim cookie named for the three-cornered hat that Haman wore – popular/favorite. Many Jewish people also donate to charity around this time of the year.

Public Life

Purim is not a public holiday in Canada so public offices, schools, many businesses, and transport systems remain open or operational.

Background

According to the Royal Ontario Museum, about 196,000 Jewish immigrants came to Canada between 1880 and 1930. The founders of the Toronto and Montreal Jewish communities came from other parts of the British empire prior to this immigration period. The first Jewish immigrants arrived after the British empire possessed New France following the 1763 Paris Treaty that ended the Seven Years’ War.

Canada’s first synagogue was built in 1768. Purim has been celebrated in Canada since the nation’s first Jewish congregation was established in Montreal. Even though the story of Esther is old, the moral of this story is still very significant.  One of the hallmarks of this Jewish holiday is that Purim is not rooted in the land of Israel, but in the Diaspora experience – the experience of Jewish people living outside of Israel.

Note: Timeanddate.com wishes to thank the Ontario Royal Museum for background information about Purim and Jewish Canadians.

About Purim in other countries

Read more about Purim.

Purim Observances

Note: Jewish holidays begin at sundown the day before the date specified for the holiday.

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday TypeArea
2010SunFeb 28PurimJewish holiday 
2011SunMar 20PurimJewish holiday 
2012ThuMar 8PurimJewish holiday 
2013SunFeb 24PurimJewish holiday 
2014SunMar 16PurimJewish holiday 
2015ThuMar 5PurimJewish holiday 
2016ThuMar 24PurimJewish holiday 
2017SunMar 12PurimJewish holiday 
2018ThuMar 1PurimJewish holiday 
2019ThuMar 21PurimJewish holiday 
2020TueMar 10PurimJewish holiday 

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