Annie set some crackers, caviar and pickled herring on the table. "This should keep you until the roast is ready. If my memory serves me correctly; Finland was allied to the axis during World War II," said Annie. "It wasn't that Fins liked the Germans, they just hated the Russians more. Hitler wanted Finland to extradite all of the Jews to Germany. Finland Refused."
"That's right," said Toivo. "Finland informed the Germans, that their Jews were Finnish citizens and that the Germans had better leave them alone. They stood up to the Germans and succeeded."
Doc Harry asked, "Didn't Denmark do the same thing?"
"Not quite," said Toivo. "In Denmark, the Germans made the Jews all wear yellow stars. The King of Denmark, in protest, also put on a yellow star, as did many Danes. The big difference is that the Germans still deported many Jews and Danes to the death camps. This never happened in Finland."
By this time, Sulo had returned with a little blond Emmi. He picked her up and set her on an ornately carved wooden high chair. "Did you celebrate St. Urho's Day," asked Sulo?
Toivo Smiled: "St. Urho was made up; he was invented in Minnesota in 1950 by the owner of Ketola's department store."
"I thought it was by the Hautaniemi brothers while they were making home brew and eating liverwurst sandwiches, "interjected Doc Harry. "St. Urho's is always one day before St. Patty's day."
"My family celebrates another fun holiday around that time," said Toivo. "It predates both St. Urhos and St. Patty's.
"What day is that?" asked Sulo
"Purum" said Toivo with a big smile. "…It is celebrated on the 14th day of Adar in the Jewish Calendar. That puts this celebration sometime in March right before St. Urho's and St. Patricks day.
"Oh yes," said Harry. "Doesn't that have something to do with the Bible story of Esther?"
"It does," said Sulo. "We celebrate it as one of the many times that someone was stopped from wiping out the Jewish people."
"I seem to recall" said Harry, as he helped himself to some of Sulo's wine; "that it involves lots of drinking and partying."
"Harry likes to Party" said Sulo.
"It's a big time for celebrating" said Toivo "The Talmud tells us to eat, drink and be merry, and we do have lots of fun. We dress up in costumes, sing songs, give gifts, and make lots of noise."
"Sounds like little Annie's last family reunion" snickered Sulo
"Please lets keep my relatives out of it," said Annie. "Tell us some more about Purim."
"It's all in the Bible," said Toivo. "The King of Persia, Achashverosh (Christians call him Ahasuerus) was persuaded by his evil advisor Haman to kill all of the Jews. Haman had concocted a number of lies and half truths about why the Jews needed to be killed, and the King believed him. Haman hated the Jews and he particularly hated Mordiecai who was the Kings token Jewish advisor. Haman was a real egotist and Mordiecai continually irritated him because he refused to bow down to him (Haman wore a gold idol and Mordiecai was not about to bow to any sort of idol). Haman was also jealous of Mordiecai because Mordiecai was supposed to be rewarded by the king for discovering and stopping a plot on his life.
"Some years earlier the King commanded his wife Vishti to appear at a dinner party. Vishti refused because she had something like an acne outbreak and did not want people to see her. The king thought of himself as a very positive person and did not like being around negative people, He did the most positive thing that he could think of; he had her killed.
The King's advisors told him that every king needs a queen, and that he really needed someone to take Vishti's place. They thought it would be nice if he could find someone both talented and beautiful. An Empire wide beauty contest was then conducted to find Vishti's replacement. Beautiful and talented women from all over competed, and in the end Esther, Mordiecais' niece, won. Esther won the grand prize: a night on the town and marriage to Persia's most eligible bachelor, King Achashverosh. Some years later Mordiecai found out about Haman's plot to kill the Jews, and told Esther. He asked her if she could get word to the king and stop Haman's proposed genocide from happening."
Toivo held out his wine glass, and Harry filled it. He then continued. "You must understand that Esther was a bit nervous, King Achashverosh was sort of the Saddam Hussain of his day. She did not want to end up like her predecessor Queen Vishti.
"Esther fasted for three days, all the while Mordiecai called the Jewish people to repentance and gathered 22,000 Jewish Children with whom he prayed and studied the Torah to help awaken God's mercy.
"Esther took a chance and appeared before the King. Fortunately, the king was delighted to see her, and she played up to his vanity. At great risk to her life, Esther managed to set up a wine