Easter greetings from Montalcino and the etymology of Easter

Above: I just couldn’t resist reposting this photo sent from our friends Laura and Marco at Il Palazzone in Montalcino.

In English today, we use the name Easter to denote the springtime Christian holiday and festival, from “Eostre (Northumbrian spelling of Éastre),” according to the Oxford English Dictionary (online edition), “the name of a goddess whose festival was celebrated at the vernal equinox.”

In nearly every other Western language, however, we use a name that corresponds to the name of the Jewish festival of the Passover: “Greek πασχά, Hebrew pésaḥ [pesach], Latin pascha, French Pâques, Italian Pasqua, Spanish Pascua, Dutch pask,” write the editors of the OED.

Until the late nineteenth century, Anglophones also commonly used the name pasch to denote the Easter feast (as in the expression the paschal lamb): from the “Aramaic pisḥā Passover fesival, Passover sacrifice, Passover meal (emphatic form of pasaḥ [meaning] to pass over; compare Syriac peṣḥā Passover, Easter, Hebrew pesaḥ Passover).”

What does passing over have to do with it all?

“The festival is named after the Lord’s ‘passing over’ the houses of the People of Israel, whose doorposts were marked with the blood of a lamb, while the Egyptians were punished with the death of their firstborn (Exodus 11–12).”

Buona pasqua, happy Easter, kalo pascha (Greek), ya’ll! :-)

A radiant champion is born in Montalcino

Isla, above, stole my heart about a month when I was the dinner guest of her parents, Laura and Marco, who manage Il Palazzone, producer of Brunello di Montalcino. (Of course, Isla stacked the cards by designing the place setting for me below.)

Today, Isla has a newborn little sister: Nia Rose came into this world over the weekend. (“Pronounced Nee-ah, meaning radiant champion in Gaelic,” writes Laura, whom I imagine is quite radiant herself right now.)

Mazel tov, Laura, Marco, Isla, and James! Tracie P and I are so happy for you and are sending you lots of love! And man, this baby fever is contagious! :-)