Purim was established as a remembrance of the defeat of Haman who pursued genocide against the Yehudim in the kingdom of Ahashverosh. Purim is celebrated for two days by Karaites – the fourteenth and fifteenth of the twelfth month of the Hebrew calendar.
For that reason these days were named Purim, after pur. In view, then, of all the instructions in the said letter and of what they had experienced in that matter and what had befallen them, the Yehudim undertook and irrevocably obligated themselves and their descendants, and all who might join them, to observe these two days in the manner prescribed and at the proper time each year. Consequently, these days are recalled and observed in every generation: by every family, every province, and every city. And these days of Purim shall never cease among the Yehudim, and the memory of them shall never perish among their descendants. (Ester 9:26-28)1
Purim is a day of joy and gladness which is celebrated by two days of dancing, singing, and feasting (Ester 9:18).
But the Yehudim in Shushan mustered on both the thirteenth and fourteenth days, and so rested on the fifteenth, and made it a day of feasting and merrymaking. (Ester 9:18)1
According to Karaite tradition B’nei Yisrael is required to have festive meals on both nights of Purim (Ester 9:27-32).
… the Yehudim undertook and irrevocably obligated themselves and their descendants, and all who might join them, to observe these two days in the manner prescribed and at the proper time each year. Consequently, these days are recalled and observed in every generation: by every family, every province, and every city. And these days of Purim shall never cease among the Yedhudim, and the memory of them shall never perish among their descendants. Then Queen Ester daughter of Avihayi wrote a second letter of Purim for the purpose of confirming with full authority the aforementioned one of Mordecai the Yehudi. Dispatches were sent to all the Yehudim in the hundred and twenty-seven provinces of the real of Ahashverosh with an ordinance of “equity and honesty:” These days of Purim shall be observed at their proper time, as Mordecai the Yehudi – and now Queen Ester – has obligated them to do, and just as they have assumed for themselves, and their descendants the obligation of the fasts with their lamentations. And Ester’s ordinance validating these observances of Purim was recorded in a scroll. (Ester 9:27-32)1
Karaites also send michlo’ach manot – presents of food – to one another (Ester 9:19).2
That is why village Yehudim, who live in unwalled towns, observe the fourteenth day of the month of Adar and make it a day of merrymaking and feasting, and as a holiday and an occasion for sending gifts to one another. (Ester 9:19)1
Megillah Ester is read on Purim and children dress up as characters and put on plays based upon the story of Ester. Some traditional desserts include wedan Haman (Haman’s ears), bughashah (cream-filled strudel), and zalabiyya (doughnut-like pastry). Beeswax candles are ceremonially lit and placed on a special table because Purim is considered a festival of lights (Ester 8:16).2
The Yehudim enjoyed light and gladness, happiness and honor. (Ester 8:16)1
It is also customary for engagements to be announced during Purim. It is also traditional for the head of the household to give each family member a gift.
David Stein (ed.). JPS English-Hebrew Tanakh. Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 2000.
al-Qirqisani Center. An Introduction to Karaite Judaism: History, Theology, Practice, and Custom. Troy, NY: al-Qirqisani Center for the Promotion of Karaite Studies, 2003.