Monday, March 10, 2014

Need a Purim Costume Idea?

My dirty secret is out: I hate dressing up in a costume on Purim. To be fair, I don't care for dressing up at any time, whether that's Halloween, a party, or ComiCon. I can't explain it, but I know I can't be the only one.

However, most people love dressing up for Purim, and I do like seeing other people dressed up. 

Perhaps you've never experience a frum Purim before and don't know what to wear. Purim sounds like Halloween, but are your sexy nun and sexy ghost costumes from 2 years ago still appropriate? Shockingly, no. 

Coming from a secular American background, I can't help but compare Purim to Halloween. When planning a costume, imagine if Halloween were truly family-friendly and about having relatively wholesome fun. Costumes will often be nerdy or downright dorky. I'm looking at you, group of people dressed as the Periodic Table of the Elements.

Some costume parameters to consider: tznius (modest), preferably not intended to be scary (too Halloweendik in many communities), and cross-dressing is allowed. Couple/family costumes are common, and group costumes are more common than in the non-Jewish world. You will probably see many "Jewish joke" costumes, playing on Biblical/Talmudic quotes or community stereotypes.

And surprisingly, don't worry about whether your costume is shatnes, a mixture of wool and linen which is normally prohibited by halacha. Apparently Purim is the one day when you can wear shatnes d'rabannan, according to the Rema. If that interests you, you should ask your rabbi what that means.

Here are some costumes ideas for Purim:
Queen Esther
Kohen Gadol
An animal
Audrey Hepburn
Bob Ross
Bonnie and Clyde
Cartoon character 
the Doctor Who reincarnation of your choice
Harry Potter character
the Hebrew Hammer
Indiana Jones
Movie character
(Pregnant nuns should be expected in most communities, but I personally don't recommend mocking another faith)
Orbit Gum Lady
Pop culture character
Sherlock Holmes
Sparkly vampire

I hope this got your creative juices flowing, and I look forward to seeing all your great costumes!

Next year, remember to hit the Halloween sales for wigs, colored hair spray, costume make-up, and costumes!


  1. I never had the guts to wear a costume at comicon. Unless you count that time I dressed up as Conner Kent Superboy, but that really doesn't count :P

  2. I've joined a Modern Orthodox community and apparently the converts already in the process have not dressed up for Purim. The Rebbetzin said she doesn't think it's modest to dress up and draw attention to ones' self. However, the shul has distributed flyers stating that the best dressed couple will win a prize, so I am assuming they expect some women to dress up. Also, if everyone's dressed up, you're not really drawing attention to yourself if you're not the exception? I don't want to do anything untznius but I also don't want to not participate if I should. I worry that it might look like I'm not interested. I am not aware of anything prohibiting a woman from dressing up.

    1. That sounds ridiculous to me! A majority of the women dressed up in every community I've been a part of. How did it turn out?

    2. Hi Kochava,

      Bought a few cop accessories to try to subtly enhance my wardrobe for Purim, but I felt so awkward because I wasn't sure what to do, so I didn't even wear them. My shul has two rabbis/rebbetzin's - the main rabbi is well respected, and his wife did indeed dress up. Kinda felt stupid afterwards. Will do better next year PG!

  3. Hi,

    Could you tell where exactly does the rambaN say that Shatnes is Ok on Purim ??

    1. I'm glad you asked this because I went back to the rabbi I learned this from for clarification. I misheard him, it's actually the Rema, and the source is quoted in the comment below. And it's shatnes derabbanan. Apparently the rabbi should have mentioned that detail at the time because many in the class have shared this "surprising fact" with others.

  4. Rema comment on Shulchan Aruch, chelek Orach Chaim, Siman 695, Sif 2, Sif Katan 7:
    Some people have the custom to wear the same clothes they wear on Shabbat and Yom Tov on Purim, and this is correct.

  5. OH goodness i had to giggle at your "Doctor who" because my son went as #6. He was a HUGE hit. :)

    1. The husband has agreed that I can leave him for David Tennant. Matt Smith...we're glad he's gone. Still about a season and a half behind everyone else though. And I can't get him to the old Doctors, so I'm only on Two there.