Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Mystery Behind the Mask

People seem to love to have a reason to wear a costume. A few weeks ago, our High School for Environmental Studies held its annual Purim parade. Students dressed up in costumes and built floats out of recycled material. Thousands of people made it down to this small oasis in the desert to cheer them on. Purim is perhaps one of the most joyous of Jewish holidays, although still keeping to the typical Jewish holiday recipe: "They persecuted us, we beat them, let's eat!"

Some people compare Purim to Halloween, mainly because of the costumes. But while Israeli schools are putting on elaborate parades and acting out the history of the Purim holiday, children on Halloween go from door to door shouting "trick and treat" and filling up on candy. And the adults, in both holidays, get to party, often drinking a little too much, but having the luxury of hiding behind the anonymity of their costume.

Who among us does not wear a mask? Some masks make us faceless in a crowd. Other masks seductively reveal just enough of ourselves to have people asking for more. Would Romeo and Juliet have ever found the courage to meet, had it not been for the mask?

But it is not just at masked parties and events, such as Purim and Halloween that people adorn costumes. People like to dress up every day, from the moment they get up, until they go to bed. Clothes: clothes for the occasion, clothes for the mood; colorful makeup, stylized haircuts, dangling jewellery and hot tattoos.

Much of this is imitation, something that begins already early in our childhood years, where children mimic their parents by putting on their shoes and clothes. Later it often becomes a means of protest, as rebellious teenagers dress in stark contrast to their parents' appearance. And much later, it is a feeble attempt to regain lost youth, in our denial of getting old.

Such are the costumes we wear, and the people we want to be. When was the last time you made that leap of faith? Did you succeed?

1 comment:

  1. Was a teen in the 60's and am a woman of the 60's today. Still in the same "costume"...jeans or long skirts with dangling earrings and a guitar in hand . Not an attempt to regain youth; it's just the essence of my identity.