Purim Guide

Purim Holiday Traditions, History & Celebrations

1. What are groggers?

Groggers (also called “graggers”, “gragers” and “greggers”), are handheld noisemakers used during Purim. Other methods of producing loud noises, such as stomping feet and firecrackers, have been used also.

An assortment of purim groggers.
Purim groggers.

2. Why and when do we make loud noises during Purim?

A popular custom on Purim is to block out dispel Haman’s name with noise. This custom originates in the book of Exodus 17:4, “For I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under the Heavens.” Haman was considered a descendant of Amalekites. For all 54 times that Haman’s name is mentioned in the Megillah, noise is made to erase his name.

3. The evolution of Purim noisemakers

As mentioned earlier, groggers are not the only method of noisemakers used to blot out Haman’s name—they are only a recent phenomenon. A 13th-century custom was to write Haman’s name on pebbles, cite his crimes and then rub the pebbles together so that “the name of the wicked shall rot.” 

In 17th-century Germany, as gunpowder started to become a widespread commodity, young boys began to concoct handmade explosives to erase Haman’s name. This practice spread to nearby Eastern European countries. 

Besides physical noisemakers, it is also common for people to yell, boo and make other noises themselves when Haman’s name is mentioned. 

Groggers have a complex history, as they used to be a predominantly Christian tool. Medieval Christians believed that groggers could exorcize demons—so they were used during storms and weddings in attempts to purify the environment. Groggers were used by various law enforcement agencies to sound alarms—even being used by the U.S. military in WWI and WWII to signal incoming attacks. The first known instance of groggers being used during Purim is from 18th-century Europe and New York. Groggers are widely used today due to their easy use—one only has to spin it—and their various decorations and styles, which allow people to show off their unique groggers.

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