Happy Easter!

Apr 4, 2012 | Language

Many people across the world will be celebrating this most important Christian festival. It is linked to the Jewish Passover with its position in the calendar, symbolism and even, in many languages, etymologically.

The word Easter has its roots in the Old English word Ēastre or Ēostre, referring to the Eostur-monath (Ēostre month” in Old English) from the Germanic calendar. The English monk, scholar and translator Saint Bede wrote that the month was named after the Anglo-Saxon pagan goddess Ēostre and that Ēostur-monath was the equivalent to the month of April. It is believed that many of our current Easter customs, including hares and eggs, were originally Germanic.

Although modern German uses the term Ostern, Germanic, Semitic, Romance and Celtic languages generally use words deriving from the Latin Pascha, which in turn derived from the Hebrew Pesach – the festival of Passover. In Spanish, Easter is Pascua, in Italian and Catalan Pasqua, in Portuguese Páscoa and in Romanian Paşti. The French Pâques also derives from the Latin word.

Likewise in modern Celtic languages; in Welsh Pasg and in Cornish and Breton Pask. In Irish, Gaelic and Manx, the initial p sound was subsequently redeveloped so the p was replaced with k giving us An Cháisc, A’ Chàisg and Y Chaisht respectively.

Pasen is used in Dutch and, in the Scandinavian languages the name derives directly from the Hebrew Pesach; Danish and Norwegian using påske, Sweden påsk, Icelandic páskar and Faeroese páskir.

So, Happy Easter, Frohe Ostern, ¡Felices Pascuas, Pasg Hapus, God påske etc… And don’t eat too much chocolate!

Thanks to www.wikipedia.org.
Photo: © Radu Iordache | Dreamstime.com