Word of the Day Adloyada

The name for the annual Purim parade comes from an Aramaic phrase telling us how drunk to get on the holiday.

Shoshana Kordova
Shoshana Kordova
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These girls aren't drunk, but they sure are having a good time at the Purim parade.
These girls aren't drunk, but they sure are having a good time at the Purim parade.Credit: Nir Keidar
Shoshana Kordova
Shoshana Kordova

The Talmudic sage Rabba tells us that on the Jewish holiday of Purim, which takes place on Sunday in most of the world, Jews are obligated to get so drunk that they can't tell the difference between two of the holiday's main protagonists: Haman the cursed and Mordecai the blessed. Rabba uses the Aramaic phrase ad d'lo yada, meaning "until he doesn't know" to describe just how wasted people should get.

Smush those words together and you get Adloyada (AHD-lo-ya-da), the name for the annual Purim parade that takes place in many Israeli cities on or around the holiday. There people celebrate the victory of the Persian empire's Jews over Haman's plans to wipe them out by dressing up in costume and eating triangular filled pastries that may or may not resemble Haman's ears or his hat.

One of the largest parades is the one in Holon, near Tel Aviv, takes place on Sunday this year; it will feature acrobats, street theater and fireworks as well as floats such as a toy train made out of 20,000 flowers and old and new characters such as Pinocchio and a massive Angry Bird.

The tradition of holding a Purim parade dates back to the pre-state era, at least in Tel Aviv, but it didn't always have a particularly Jewish name. It was just called a karr-nee-VAHL, or carnival, until Tel Aviv held a contest in 1932 to choose a Hebrew name for the procession. The parade-naming committee received 300 submissions, including Purimus, Purimiya, Esteron (after the Purim heroine Queen Esther), Masekhon (after the Hebrew for mask, masekha) and Karnapur (a combination of "carnival" and "Purim"), according to a scholarly article by Israeli playwright Dan Almagor.

The event was so closely associated with Tel Aviv that some of the suggestions tied in the city with the event, such as Purta (with the "ta" at the end standing for Tel Aviv) and Tel Avivon. There were also a few tongue-twisters like Sasson-Shushan, which combines a word for "joy" with the capital city that was home to King Ahaseurus' palace.

The selected name was coined by Hebrew author Y.D. Berkowitz, the son-in-law of writer Shalom Aleichem. In its ruling, the committee said that though the name comes from an Aramaic phrase, Adloyada brings to mind the Hebrew ending used in words like Olimpiada, as the Olympics are called in Hebrew.

To contact Shoshana Kordova with column suggestions or other word-related comments, email her at shoshanakordova@gmail.com. For previous Word of the Day columns, go to: www.haaretz.com/news/features/word-of-the-day.

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