Little Purim


This coming Tuesday is the “Small Purim”.

Purim (the big one) is in a month.

The Gregorian calendar’s leap year adds one day every four years.

The Jewish calendar’s leap year adds an entire month 7 out of every 19 years!

Sounds like classic Jewish complication?


It’s actually quite fascinating.

The reason is to keep the lunar month and solar year in sync.

The cycle of the sun (four seasons and stuff) is 365 days.

That’s why a year is 365 days.

The moon’s cycle (from new, to full, back to nothing) is 29.5 days.

Twelve months of 29.5 days is 354 days.

Which is 11 days short of the “solar year”.

So the Gregorian calendar has 365 days and seasons that are consistent.

January is always cooler and August is always hotter

(In the northern hemisphere. Southern hemisphere is reversed but still predictable).

But the months have nothing to do with the moon.

The first of the month usually is not a new moon, and the middle of the month is not necessarily full.

The Muslim calendar is the opposite.

It follows the moon.

Each month starts on a new moon.

But it’s year is 11 days short of the solar year.

So the same month could be in the summer or winter, depending on the year. 🤯

That’s why Ramadan is sometimes in the summer, and sometimes in the winter.

The Jewish calendar is a hybrid.

The month starts with the new moon.

But Passover is always in the Spring.

And to deal with the 11 day gap between the lunar year…

We add a month!

In 7 out of every 19 years.

The month is called Adar 1.

On a leap year, we have Adar 1 and Adar 2.

The 14th of Adar is usually Purim.

In a leap year, Purim is the 14th of Adar 2.

And the 14th of Adar 1 is “Small Purim”.

We don’t do the mitzvahs of Purim.

But we try to have a nicer meal and small party to honor the “Small Purim”.

Interestingly, the closing words of the first book of Shulchan Oruch (Code of Jewish law) address the “Small Purim”.

Those last words are “You should have a little extra festive meal. A good heart is always partying.”


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