Name changes? (letter)

Name changes? (letter)

Frank Mobbs

Perhaps the time has come to review some of the names of our Christian seasons and feast days. For example, "The Nativity" is arguably preferable to Christmas, as in other languages (Nativité, Navidad, Natività), but it seems impossible to dislodge for the time being.

The case is stronger with "Lent" and "Easter", for the words themselves have no meaning, even if users of English know what events are picked out by these two names.

It might be thought that the derivation of these names will give them meaning. I'm afraid not. Consider "Lent". It seems to be derived from an Anglo-Saxon word lenten, meaning "Spring". But Christians are not observing Spring when they observe Lent, especially in the southern hemisphere.

"Easter" seems to be from an Anglo-Saxon word, Edestre, the goddess of spring. Fine, but no one is celebrating Edestre at Easter, and hardly anyone has heard of the goddess.

My favourite candidate to replace "Lent" is "Preparation", that is, Preparation for the Resurrection. Using this name, one would say, "I intend to fast during Preparation this year" or "I must go to Confession during Preparation." A rival is "Forty Days", the equivalent of which is used in Romance languages (French: careme, Italian: quaresima, Spanish: cuaresma).

My favourite replacement for "Easter" is "Pascha" from "Passover". We date the Feast of the Resurrection by reference to Passover. Moreover, the Lord Jesus said, "I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples" (Matthew 26:18) as he went to his death and resurrection.

Next year let us use the days of Preparation well so that we may rejoice at Pascha.

FRANK MOBBS
Gosford, NSW

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