Purim is big in Israel. Bigger than Jesus. Definitely bigger than Christmas and probably bigger than Chanukkah. All parents of Israeli kids know that Purim starts a month-and-a-half before the festival, with preparing and ordering costumes, (nowadays via AliExpress, no advertising intended).
In Tel Aviv, Purim celebrations are spread out over two weeks, with pre- and post-Purim parties. Every nightclub and bar prides itself on its ‘wacky’ costume parties. Hi-tech corporations compete with each other to throw the wildest night for their employees. Enthusiastic employees take time off work to invest in creating ‘crazy’ team costumes. Millions of shekels are spent on wigs and hats as well as cheap chocolate for ‘Mishloch Manot’ gift baskets.
Grown men wear what-looks-like a dildo on their heads – thinking they look like unicorns. Boys dress like girls. Girls dress like call girls. Guys in Batman outfits shoot by at supersonic speed on their electric scooters, nearly causing a car crash.
It’s a face-paint-tastic, cape-wearing, glitter-fest meant to rival the likes of Rio Carnival. And why are people going crazy for this festival? Well, officially, it’s a minor Jewish festival to commemorate the Megillah – the story of Esther overcoming the age-old Jewish enemy of Haman in ancient Persia.
But today it’s about one thing and one thing only – the Selfie.
If there’s anything people here love more than getting dressed up, it’s taking pictures of themselves. Luckily for them, Purim combines the two.
In fact, from next year (2019) the Mayor of Tel Aviv has announced that Purim is going to be renamed ‘Selfie’. People will wish each other a ‘Selfie Sameach’.
Supermen and Superwomen will hold competitions of how many ‘likes’ their selfies get on Instagram. The superheroes with the most likes will win a Super Selfie – their image displayed on billboards along the Ayalon Highway. All school children will be given smartphones to take selfies. All celebrities and politicians have to take selfies. And so on.
The Purim tradition of ‘getting so drunk you can’t tell your friends from enemies’ will be changed to ‘taking so many selfies you don’t have any real friends.’ Because the Selfie festival is all about pretending to have a good time, not actually enjoying the moment.
It’s a celebration of ‘fakeness’ or ‘fake fun’, which has been statistically proven better than real fun. If parties used to be about good vibes, today it’s about going viral.
So Happy Purim everyone. It may well be your last. See you at next year’s Selfie parade.