1. Mishteh - the festive revelry, with costumes, sweets, and drinking (for the adults)
2. Mishloach Manot - exchange of treats among friends
3. Matanot la-Evyonim - charitable giving to the poor
4. Megilla - reading of the Purim scroll (Book of Esther)
Our family enjoyed a delightful Purim Party at our shul, where all 4 were in evidence (except for the alcohol.... that was last night!)
One particular excerpt from the Megilla really spoke to me. In the 4th chapter, when Mordechai pleads with Esther to speak up to the king on behalf of the Jewish people, she is afraid. Speaking to the King without being summoned is a capital offense! This risk is very real. She does not want to do it. And Mordechai persists:
13 and Mordechai said to relay to Esther, "Do not think that you will escape [the fate of] all the Jews by being in the king's palace. 14 For if you will remain silent at this time, relief and salvation will come to the Jews from another source, and you and the house of your father will be lost. And who knows if it is not for just such a time that you reached this royal position." (emphasis mine)At each juncture in our lives, we can see our choices as risks or as opportunities. The risks refer to all the ways that things can go wrong. The opportunities are not simply the flip-side of that, the things that could go right, but the ways in which our life up until that point has prepared us for this. Wherever we are is our "royal position" for taking on the "king".
The Jewish website aish.com featured this video on exactly this theme. Enjoy!