Ask Miriam | Is Boundary-Pushing Costume OK for Purim?

Two champagne bottles, golden carnival mask and confetti stars on purple-blue backround. Flat lay of Christmas, New Year, Purim, Carnival celebration concept.
laimdota / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Dear Miriam,

I have a costume all ready for Purim tonight that riffs on some very topical current events. I told a friend, though, and she thinks it’s in bad taste. I thought anything goes on Purim, but now she has me doubting my judgment. I don’t want to offend anyone, but I do like this one day of the year to push boundaries in a Jewish context. What do you think?


2020 Problems

Dear Problems,

Purim is indeed a day to push boundaries and to turn things on their heads. It’s a topsy turvy out of the ordinary kind of day. Given the current state of affairs, with a barrage of unbelievable news stories all the time, it’s hard to say we need the absurdity of Purim to give us that experience this year. However, Purim is also a time to celebrate, and we could all use some joy and levity, even if it’s religiously enforced.

Ask yourself these questions: Will my costume bring Purim joy to the people around me? Am I wearing this costume to increase my own celebration of the holiday or to call attention to myself for other reasons? Do I have an agenda that goes beyond “Celebrate Purim?” Is my costume likely to make people uncomfortable? Do I think people will see me differently because of what I choose to wear tonight? Only you can answer these questions, and only you can decide what the answers point to regarding what you should wear.

You seem genuinely excited and sincere in your desire to be a good Purim citizen, and it is a holiday where (almost) anything goes, but I can’t quite give you my full blessing without knowing more about your costume or your community. If you go for it, please bring a change of clothes or have a plan for taking away the most specific aspects of your costume if you’re greeted by a lot of negative reactions or realize you misjudged the crowd at your particular megillah reading. If you opt out, I hope you still have fun, and there’s always next year.

If you wear it and get pushback, please don’t argue with people. If you’re wearing a somewhat aggressive costume, you can’t get away with also being a somewhat aggressive person. Smile, laugh, compliment the other person’s costume, shrug, say “bad taste, I know,” or “Purim only comes once a year.” You’re essentially asking everyone around you to be a good sport, so you need to be one as well. Tell your friend you’ve given her comments a lot of thought but you feel confident in your decision, whatever that decision turns out to be.

Happy Purim.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here