For Jews the world over, Purim is a joyful holiday that celebrates their salvation from genocide in ancient Persia, as recounted in the book of Esther. As night falls following a day of observance, Israelis break out colorful costumes and alcohol and take to the streets in what is one of the more colorful holidays in the world.
Celebrated every year on the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Adar, observances in 2016 began at sunset on Wednesday, March 23, ended at nightfall on Thursday, March 24.
On Purim, Jews give money to the poor, gift their friends with food and hold a feast where adults drink until they don't "know the difference between 'cursed be Haman' (the bad guy) and 'blessed be Mordechai'" (the good guy), according to Jewish doctrine and the story that inspired the Purim celebration.
Dressing in costume is a big part of the holiday, with the disguises representing the belief that God is at work but hidden in our lives. Nowhere is Purim celebrated with more energy than Jerusalem's Mea Shearim neighborhood, where it includes (for reasons that aren't clear) Orthodox Jewish children smoking cigarettes as part of the holiday.