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Word of the Day: pasen (Easter)

Yes, the new Pope thanked the Dutch florists for the 40,000 free flowers (including 3,000 white Avalanche roses) after having said ‘urbi et orbi’ today. But no, this Pope did not express his gratitude in Dutch as his predecessors were accustomed to. This year no ‘Bedankt voor de bloemen’ (‘thanks for the flowers’). He said it in Italian. This year Pope Francis broke a tradition which started 28 years ago. What a shame. Next year we hope he studied some Dutch (you know where…).


Anyway, Happy Easter everyone, VROLIJK PASEN IEDEREEN. Or if you are a Roman Catholic: ZALIG PASEN. ‘Zalig’ meaning ‘blessed’.

Why the word PASEN in Dutch and why EASTER in English?

Let’s start with the word PASEN. It is the plural of PAAS. And that’s because there are two days of PAAS. The medieval word PAAS comes from Latin ‘pascha’. This word refers both to the jewish ‘Pesah’ (feast celebrating the exodus from Egypt, aka Passover) and to the christian feast of the resurrection of Christ. We find it in French ‘Pâques’ and other romance languages. The Pope started his speech this morning wishing everybody: ‘Buona Pasqua!’.

Now where does the word Easter come from? Obviously from the word east. What does PASEN have to do with the east? The word refers to the early Liturgy at dawn, the ‘alba’, when the resurrection of Christ from the grave is celebrated. ‘Alba’ means sunrise, a daily event traditionally occurring in the east. Easter was probably borrowed from the german ‘Ostern’.

We hope that you found all your PAASEIEREN (Eastereggs) in the garden this morning. Buffy, de PAASHOND was very busy hiding them. Fortunately she got some help from Moppie, de PAASPOES.

Thanks Yolande for the picture of your ‘gezellige poes’!