What Are Guidelines For Appropriate Purim Costumes?

Why do people wear Purim costumes in fact and in theory?

Is dressing up like a celebrity like Michael Jackson appropriate?

How about like an evil person like Saddam Hussein?

What other guidelines have you followed for appropriate Purim Costumes for children, teenagers and adults?

13 comments on “What Are Guidelines For Appropriate Purim Costumes?

  1. To DB #12: I wear the same Purim costume every year. I’m Zeresh, Haman’s evil wife. All that is needed is a malevolent sneer, plus a rolling pin to bop Haman over the head with.

    Both my youngest and oldest married daughters wore multicolored clown wigs, while my second married daughter (I have four) dressed up as a Moroccan dancer, complete with scads of bangle bracelets and low hanging necklaces.

    There’s so much we can do to enjoy ourselves on Purim and still be totally Tzenius.

  2. And what about the Emas… why does it seem unpopular and untznius to join in the fun and dress in costume? There are very few married women who actually wear costumes. Maybe I’m supposed to “grow up” at some point, but I enjoy this aspect of Purim too. I think it falls in the category of not dancing (with other women, of course) on Simchas Torah, or minimally dancing at a wedding (round and round we go), all in the name of tznius. I get a little tired of the restrictiveness, even when it is halachically b’seder.

  3. Purim (or carnival time in any community) is the time when tensions regarding established community mores come to the surface. There is a very fine dividing line between what is “imaginative” and what is “pas nisht” and each community has its own definition. The upper West side of Manhattan would have much different attitudes than Boro park.

  4. I have been arguing with my 10 year old daughter for days over her purim costume. She is convinced Purim gives her license to 1) dress like a slut (an offensive term, please pardon the short-hand) or 2) dress in pants. I had to adamantly lay down the law on both of these issues.

    She finally settled on “clown-wear” which is cheap and easy to acquire for Purim. A funny hat, a funny nose and face paint.

  5. Mr. Cohen,

    Thanks for the sources, but the point remains that the Rema paskens in the Shulchan Aruch (696:8) that it is permitted to cross dress. (I don’t know why you failed to quote that siman) Of course there are those who disagree, but my question was how to reconcile those that permit it with the general impression that we cannot relax the year-round laws of modesty.

  6. Sefer Charedim, Chapter 29, Paragraph 69, page 129 of menukad edition:
    Rabbi Eliezer of Metz [died in year 1175 of the Common Era, one of the Baalei Tosafot and author of Sefer Yereim] taught that [a man wearing the clothes of a woman or a woman wearing the clothes of a man] is forbidden even for an occasional joke, because with respect to this, the Torah did not distinguish between an occasional practice and a regular practice.

  7. Rema commentary on Shulchan Aruch, Chelek Orach Chaim, Siman 695, Sif 2, Sif Katan 7:

    Some people have the custom the wear the same clothes they wear on Shabbat and Yom Tov on Purim, and this is correct.

  8. But cross-dressing is allowed, according to some authorities, which would seem to be an extreme problem of modesty in dress. How do we reconcile the permission for a woman to wear men’s clothes or a man to wear women’s clothes and your claim that standards of tznius are “not suspended”? This has always bothered me.

  9. Any costuming has to conform to our tznius laws, which, of course, are not suspended for Purim.

  10. Years ago, I was in yeshiva when one guy dressed as a nun. He danced and whirled wildly during the mesibah. I think it’s wrong, but, oh, how hysterical with laughter I was…I couldn’t catch my breath. It’s still one of my “whenever I feel down and need to smile” memories.

  11. I personally dislike costumes based on celebrities or political figures, good or bad. I think it detracts from the kedusha of the holiday. OTOH, some of the cutest costumes I have seen stem from pop culture (Coke can, candy pkgs, Monopoly man, etc).

  12. “Why do people where Purim …”
    pst- it whould be “why do people wear…”
    Writing it in a whisper so you can correct and then delete comment.

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