Dr. Carter G. Woodson started Black history week in 1926, to celebrate contributions of African Americans to U.S. history. He chose February to honor Frederick Douglass who died on the 20th. Douglass played a huge role toward ending American slavery. Today, schools celebrate with plays, programs, and assemblies. A popular Jewish holiday is Purim. It commemorates the deliverance of the Jewish people in the ancient Persian Empire. Back then, a wicked man named Haman made plans to kill all the Jews in the empire. Mordecai and Esther foiled his plan. Esther, Mordecai’s cousin and adopted daughter, had risen to become Queen of Persia. Bypassing protocol, she went unannounced to King Xerxes to plead for the life of her people. The king gave Mordecai permission to nullify Haman’s death decree and spared the Jews from genocide. To memorialize that great victory, Mordecai called for a celebration and established a holiday. We read in Esther 9 that Mordecai recorded these events and sent letters to the Jews near and far, calling on them to celebrate an annual festival. He told them to celebrate two days with feasting and gladness and by giving gifts of food to each other and presents to the poor. Mordecai knew that great victories deserve celebration. We can use every meal to give thanks for God’s blessings to us. We make celebrations even more special when we share with those who are less fortunate.
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