Pascha 2014

In most Slavic languages, the name for Easter either means “Great Day” or “Great Night”. For example, Wielkanoc, Veľká noc and Velikonoce mean “Great Night” or “Great Nights” in Polish, Slovak and Czech, respectively. Велигден (Veligden), Великдень (Velykden), Великден (Velikden), and Вялікдзень (Vyalikdzyen’) mean “The Great Day” in Macedonian, Ukrainian, Bulgarian, and Belarusian, respectively.

In Croatian, however, the day’s name reflects a particular theological connection: it is called Uskrs, meaning “Resurrection”. It is also called Vazam (Vzem or Vuzem in Old Croatian), which is a noun that originated from the Old Church Slavonic verb vzeti (now uzeti in Croatian, meaning “to take”). In Serbian Easter is called Vaskrs, a liturgical form inherited from the Serbian recension of Church Slavonic. The archaic term Velja noć (velmi: Old Slavic for “great”; noć: “night”) was used in Croatian while the term Velikden (“Great Day”) was used in Serbian. It is believed that Cyril and Methodius, the “holy brothers” who baptized the Slavic people and translated Christian books from Greek into Old Church Slavonic, invented the word Uskrs from the Croatian word krsnuti which means “to enliven”. It should be noted that in these languages the prefix Velik (Great) is used in the names of the Holy Week and the three feast days preceding Easter.

Another exception is Russian, in which the name of the feast, Пасха (Paskha), is a borrowing of the Greek form via Old Church Slavonic.

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