If you see people partying on Israeli streets dressed in outrageous costumes this week, be assured it’s not a late Mardi Gras nor a very late Halloween. It’s the Jewish holiday of Purim, celebrating events described in the biblical book of Esther, in which Mordechai and his cousin Esther help the Jewish people in the ancient Persian Empire triumph over the murderous plot of evil court official Haman.

Purim in Beersheva, 2017. Photo via Shutterstock.com

Purim starts this year on February 28 at sundown and continues through sunset on March 1 — except in Jerusalem, where it’s celebrated from sunset March 1 through sunset March 2.

Children in the Holon Purim Parade, March 2017. Photo by Miriam Alster/FLASH90

Purim is without a doubt the most raucous holiday on the Jewish calendar, thanks to a Talmudic declaration that “A person is obligated to drink on Purim until he does not know the difference between ‘cursed be Haman’ and ‘blessed be Mordechai.'”

Purim revelers in downtown Jerusalem. Photo by Hadas Parush/FLASH90

Purim parades, carnivals, school events and parties are happening just about everywhere. People give charity and exchange gifts of food with neighbors for their holiday meals, while others collect food for the needy.

A family in Jerusalem’s Hasidic Mea She’arim neighborhood outfitted for Purim. Photo by Ekaterina Lin/Shutterstock.com

Many Jews gather in synagogues and community centers in the evening and morning to listen to a recitation of the scroll of Esther (Megillah), and everyone gobbles oznei Haman, three-cornered pastries said to resemble Haman’s ears.

An Israeli family reading the scroll of Esther (Megillah). Photo by Yossi Zeliger/FLASH90

No matter where you go or what you do on Purim, even if you go to work, you wear something to evoke a smile or a giggle.

A family Purim portrait on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv. Photo by Miriam Alster/FLASH90

We hope you enjoy this selection of Purim photos taken in recent years in several Israeli locales. If you’re in Israel this week, grab a mask and join the fun!

An Israeli girl dressed in a butterfly costume swings in a park in Jerusalem on Purim 2017. Photo by Hadas Parush/FLASH90
A selfie at the Holon Purim Parade, March 2017. Photo by Miriam Alster/FLASH90
Purim on the beach in Caesarea, 2017. Photo via Shutterstock.com

Finally, here is a video of Aviram Carmeli, aka Aladdin, riding a magic carpet on the streets of Tel Aviv on Purim 2016.