Happy Easter! Why do we call it “Easter?” With a very few exceptions, most countries call it some variation of the Greek word “Pascha.” Well, it all comes down to Pope Gregory the Great (best pope ever!).
Pope Gregory was big into missions. He sent Roman missionaries everywhere. Well, story goes, he saw some slaves once, and they were beautiful. Just amazing human specimens. So he says to his right-hand buddy, “What kind of people are those,” and buddy tells the pope, “Anglo-Saxons (Anglos), from the province of Deira,” and the pope says something to the effect of “We should rescue these angels (Angelos) from God’s wrath (de ira).” 1400 years later, you can still feel the bright beams of self-satisfaction from the face he must have made when he dropped that line.
Anyway, Saxons are hard to convert. Jesus doesn’t like you to hit people, but hitting people is the basis of their whole culture. Pope Gregory says, “You have to ascend a mountain one step at a time.” So the missionaries do the thing where they half convert you today, half tomorrow. “You have a god with a hammer who’s super strong? Hey, we do too, but his name’s St. Joseph, and he’s not a god, but I bet he’d whoop Thor with the power of Christ.” That sort of thing.
Try this one on: “Oh, you have a big party about beginning of spring-ish, where you celebrate rebirth? So do we, except instead of worshiping the goddess Eostre (see where this is going?), we worship Christ, who spent three days kicking demon butt in hell, then came back to life!” Anglo-Saxons are on board with that, as long as they can still have an Eostre (Easter) party.
You have to ascend a mountain one step at a time. English people still haven’t got to the top. We still haven’t been convinced to use a less pagan name for the resurrection. But hey, we’ll get there eventually!
I may write more about Pope Gregory later. Best pope ever! Look how chill he looks!