A (PURIM) Feast for the Mind

For grades 5-12

Introduction | Task | Procedure | Resources | Evaluation | Conclusion | Teacher's Guide


Zap! You have been magically transported back in time to ancient Persia, around the time of Purim (5th century B.C.E.). Despite all your efforts, you can't seem to return to the present. What are you going to do now?


Since you have been unable to figure out how to get back to the present, you decide you had better learn the way of life in ancient Perisa. Being new in "time", you decide to hold a dinner party and invite some of the people in Persia and get to know them better.


1.      Plan your dinner party with your group. Share your research and bounce ideas off of each other! If you want your party to be a success, you have to work together!

2.      In order to hold a successful dinner party in the Ancient Persia, you must first find out all you can about this period. Using Megillat Esther (The Book of Esther) and the links in the Resource section, investigate this time period. Look for things like:
a. Major historical events (wars, etc.)
b. Court intrigue (conspiracies, etc.)
c. Famous people (royalty, nobility, etc.)
d. Culture in Persia
e. Clothing styles
f. Daily life and social norms

3.      After you complete your research, you and your group will plan your party. Some things to consider:
a. Menu (group must choose an appropriate menu)
b. Background music (if so, what kind?)
c. Attire
d. Decorations
d. Guest list (should include people from different parts of society: including royalty, nobles, commoners, etc.)
e. Dinner conversation topics (what is happening at this time?)

4.      You and your group will design party invitations, choose a menu and your guest list. Remember to over-invite. Not every guest you invite will be able to make it. (These are busy people, after all!) Make sure your teacher reviews your guest list!

5.      Each group member will assume the identity of one of the guests (including wearing an appropriate costume) and "be" that individual for the duration of the party. 

6.      Each party will take place in front of the class for the amount of time specified by the teacher. Individuals must stay "in their character" for the duration of the party. Party conversations will be about key issues of the day. Your teacher (who has also been transported back in time) will be a guest at each party in order to "keep the conversation moving" if necessary.


General Resources:

Megillat Esther (The Book of Esther)

The Story of Purim

Map of the Persian Empire, c. 500 B.C.E.

Introduction to Achaemenidian Persia (see lef sidebar for specific topics like food, customs, etc.)

History of the Achaemenid Empire, 550-420 BCE

Basic Info about Purim

Introduction to Ancient Persia


People in Ancient Persia:

Who was Xerxes?

Biography of Xerxes

Sources on Xeres

Biography of Esther

Biography of Mordechai

Women in Ancient Persia

Persian Society:

Luxury in Ancient Persia (see links on dining and jewelry)

Jobs in Ancient Persia

Cosmetics in Ancient Persia

Ancient Persian Dress

Images from Ancient Persia

Photographs and images of relics of Ancient Persian Army

Food in Ancient Persia



Was your party a success? Check the rubric below.



4 Points


3 Points


2 Points


1 Point

Did all of your guests participate in the conversations?





Were the conversations relevant to the period?





Were the costumes,  menu, decorations & entertainment appropriate?






You managed to learn a lot about Purim just by partying!!!

You now know more about the personalities involved and the society in which the Purim story took place. Be sure to share your new knowledge with everyone at your Purim seudah (feast). Chag sameach!


Chana German for The Lookstein Center, 2003. Links updated 01/10.