Friday, October 06, 2006


The word chag חג has a number of meanings: a holy day (holiday) in general, one of the three pilgrimage festivals, or when used with no additional classification, it refers to Sukkot (both biblically - e.g. Yechezkel 45:23 - and throughout Rabbinic literature. I have not yet found the source of the famous saying "simply chag refers to Sukkot" - and will be grateful to any reader who can point me in the right direction.)

It also can refer to the sacrifice brought on that festival, as in Shmot 23:18. In Rabbinic Hebrew this is known as חגיגה chagiga.

The root of the word is חגג , for which Klein offers a number of definitions: "to make a pilgrimage, to celebrate a feast, to dance, to reel, to be giddy". Arabic uses a cognate for their pilgrimage - the hajj.

Klein also writes that the origin of the root "was perhaps 'to leap', 'to dance' cp. base חוג ". This root means "to make a circle" or "move in a circle". While in Israel today it is an anachronism, the "dialing" of phones is called חיוג chiyug, and an area code is an ezor chiyug אזור חיוג . From the idea of a "circle of people" we get the word חוג chug, meaning "club" or "class".

If we replace the guttural chet with the guttural ayin, חוג becomes עוג , which also means "to draw a circle." From here we get the word for a (round) cake עוגה uga and the diminutive עוגיה ugiya - cookie. However, the famous children's song "uga uga" עוגה עוגה is not talking about cake, but about dancing in a circle.

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