Five costumes for this year’s combination Purim and St. Patrick’s Day
At various points in history, Jewish and Irish immigrants filled the tenements of New York City. Both were poor, foreign groups looked down upon by the rest of America.
We’ve come a long way from those days, but Jewish and Irish people still share something important — the tradition of getting wasted once a year in the name of religion. And this year, it’s happening all at once. Yes, Purim and St. Patrick’s are on the same day.
On Purim, Jews are commanded to dress up and get so intoxicated we can no longer tell the difference between Haman, the villain in the Book of Esther, and Mordechai, one of the heroes. On St. Patty’s Day, honoring Saint Patrick, it’s imperative to wear green and chug cheap dyed beer — the drinking part is not exactly a religious commandment, but historically Lent restrictions were lifted to allow revelry on St. Patrick’s feast day, so it’s close enough.
Historically, Catholics and Jews haven’t always been on the best terms, but Purim-Paddy’s is a perfect time to come together — a time to solve our issues through shared, or at least parallel, revelry.
So perhaps you are an Irish Jew trying to represent, or maybe you just want to make sure that some bro drunk on Guiness doesn’t pinch you because you’re not wearing green. Either way, below find some costume ideas for Purim-St Patrick’s Day.
1) A snake
One of the most famous stories about St. Patrick is that he banished all of the snakes from Ireland. This is almost certainly not the case, and most biologists just think that, since Ireland is an island and thus a closed ecosystem, snakes simply never made it over there in the first place. But snakes are an easy costume — just wear green and draw a forked tongue on your chin, if you’re going low-budget, or go all out with a snakeskin bodysuit and scaly makeup. You can add some Garden of Eden tie-ins, for the Jewish angle.
A disclaimer: Some historians think the myth of St. Patrick and the snakes arose due to the symbolic connection between snakes and the devil — St. Patrick was figuratively banishing Satan from Ireland — so it’s possible some drunk guys will banish you from an Irish bar if you try to grab a pint. Perhaps not the best metaphor for Irish-Jewish harmony.
2) St. Patrick/King David
I’ve googled around for both Purim and St. Patrick’s Day costumes, and King David and Saint Patrick costumes are pretty similar; your average costume store doesn’t really have a great idea how people dressed back in those days, so we usually just throw on some drapey fabric and a big hat of some kind. Usually, they don’t swathe David in green from head to toe, but the general robe-and-scepter vibe is consistent. Plus, King David was a redhead, as are, at least stereotypically, the Irish — look at how much we share.
Maybe ditch the cross shaped staff that the saint’s outfit comes with, and then this costume can take you from synagogue to the Shamrock Bar.
Envy is a big driver in the story of Purim; Haman is envious that the king bestows blessings on Mordechai, and pretty much wants to commit genocide because of it. Plus it’s one of the seven deadly sins — very Catholic — and people turn “green” with envy, so it’s perfect for St. Patrick’s. Most of the costumes online for envy are very much, uh, “less is more,” I suppose so that people can be envious of how hot you are. But given that this is a conceptual costume, you can get creative with this one.
4) Green hamantaschen
The non-Jews you encounter may not know what you are when you dress up as the triangular filled cookie, but it’s the thought that counts. Craft your costume from foam or even just draw it on a T-shirt. Don’t overthink it; maybe you’re green apple flavored, maybe you’re lime, maybe you’re even spinach — the particulars are unimportant, as this cookie will not be edible. Though handing out the traditional mishloach manot, or goodie bags, full of green hamantaschen would definitely count for bonus points, but then you’d have to come up with a real filling.
5) A joint
The commandment for Purim is to get intoxicated — but the intoxicant is not specified. Last year, my rabbi opined that smoking weed is kosher for Purim and, of course, marijuana is green. Tell the folks drinking green Bud Lite that you wanted to go all natural this year.