The gregger is a rattle, often the same style as a football rattle, used at the festival of Purim. At Purim we read the story, the Megillah, of Esther. In ancient Persia the Prime Minister, Haman, persuaded the King to pass a law to kill all the Jews. The King was married to a woman named Esther, who was Jewish but hadn’t told the King or Haman. When she heard the plan, she bravely stood up to the King, told him the truth about her heritage and about Haman’s planned genocide, and helped the King realise that he had been misled. As a result, Haman was hanged and the Jewish people survived.
At Purim, Jews go to synagogue to hear the story read from a parchment scroll (the Megillah). They wear fancy dress, commemorating the part of the story where Mordechai, the uncle of Esther, is dressed in the King’s garments. The story is often told in a pantomime-like fashion, where people greet Haman’s name by booing, stamping their feet, and using the gregger in the hope of wiping out the sound of his name. It is a particularly positive and vibrant atmosphere.
As well as reading the Megillah, Purim is observed by giving gifts to friends, charity to the poor, and (of course) eating a hearty meal.
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