HOSANNA, the cry of praise or adoration shouted in recognition of the Messiahship of Jesus on his entry into Jerusalem (Matt. xxi. 9, 15; Mark xi. 9 sq.; John xii. 13), and since used in the Christian Church. It is also a Jewish liturgical term, and was applied specifically to the " hosanna " branches carried in procession in the Feast of Booths or Tabernacles, the seventh day of which was called the Hosanna-day (so also in Syrian usage; cf. " Palm " Sunday). This festival (for which see Lev. xxiii. 39 sqq.; 2 Mace. x. 7; Jos. Ant. xii. 10. 4, xiii. 13. 15; and the Talmudic tractate Sukkah) already suggested a Dionysiac celebration to Plutarch (Symp. iv. 6), and was associated with a ceremonial drawing of water which, it was believed, secured fertilizing rains in the following year; the penalty for abstinence was drought (cf. Zech. xiv. 16 seq.). The evidence (see further Ency. Bib. cols. 3354, 4880 seq.; I. Levy, Rev. des Et. juives, 1901, pp. 192 sqq.) points to rites of nature- worship, and it is possible that in these the term Hosanna had some other application.
The old interpretation " save, now ! " which may be a popular etymology, is based on Ps. cxviii. 25 (Heb. hoshVah-nna), but this does not explain the occurrence of the word in the Gospels, a complicated problem, on which see the articles of J. H. Thayer in Hastings's Diet. Bib., and more especially T. K. Cheyne, Ency. Bib. s.v.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)