Speaking of unification of the date of Easter, my husband and I have been trying to figure out how we will celebrate Easter this year. For the first time in our two-year relationship, the dates of Catholic and Orthodox Easter will not coincide.
It struck me during that conversation that our use of different handles for the Orthodox and Catholic feasts – “Pascha” and “Easter,” respectively – illustrated an important point. “Pascha” is Hellenized “Pesach”, of which “Passover” is a translation. The fact that in English we call the most important Christian holy day by the name of a pagan goddess, rather than by the name of the Jewish feast that is its direct historic and spiritual parent, is rather disturbing.
Before I knew much about Christianity, when reading 19th-century Russian novels I was always confused whether the word “pascha” in them referred to the Jewish feast of Passover or to some mysterious Christian feast. Now I understand just how good it was for me to be confused. One should be confused about this. The two feasts are profoundly the same, and the disjointing of their names in modern English usage only serves to separate the Church from its Jewish origin, and perpetuate the image of Easter as a celebration of spring and bunnies.