We have discussed Jesus as a first name in Catholic countries. There is at Stanford an employee, presumably from Mexico, whose first name is "Pascua de Jesus". He does not realize how much trouble that name has given me. In English, paschal, from the Hebrew meaning passage, refers to the Passover (hence paschal lamb) or Easter.. Somehow in Spanish it came to refer to a series of major Catholic festivals. The Hebrew word can also mean "tribute", so possibly the Spaniards used it to designate any day when they paid special tribute to God. It can refer to Christmas Day, Epiphany, Easter (pascua florida) or Whitsun (pascua del Espiritu Santo). However, I have been unable to find "Pascua de Jesús". Can some Spanish-speaking WAISer clarify this? Then there is the expression "felices pascuas", in the plural, which I associate with Christmas or Easter.

Paul Preston says:

"As you rightly say, Pascua normally means Easter. The Pascua Militar is always celebrated on 6 January, and many Spaniards refer to the Christmas holidays/festivities as 'Las Pascuas'. A common, if not the most common, way of saying 'Happy Christmas' is 'Felices Pascuas'. Strictly speaking, to distinguish the two, which most Spaniards don't, you should say "Pascuas de Resurrección" and "Pascuas de Navidad". After all of that, I am still slightly puzzled as to the original meaning of the word Pascua. The passage of Christ on the Cross is clear enough, but not with reference to his birth and the epiphany". RH:Perhaps Ed Jajko could help here. The Hebrew pasah means passage, and originally referred to the Passover. The Spanish seem to use it for several religious feasts. I believe Spain is the only country in which the army celebrates a "military Easter".The French Pâque means Passover, but the plural form Pâques means Easter.

In Spanish,Jesus is used as a first name, but there is also Pascua de Jesús. Alejo Orvañanos has sent a long piece on the meaning of "pascua", from which I excerpt what he said about Pascua de Jesus: " Vamos a recordar la Pascua de Jesús, su "Paso" de la Muerte a la Vida". So Pascua de Jesus means Christ's passage from death to life, i.e., the resurrection, e.e. Easter, Someone named "Pascua de Jesus" is therefore named after Easter.

Not many people are named Pascua de Jesús, but there are plenty of people named John, etc. Hank Levin says: "As far as I know (in the regions of Spain with which I am familiar), the day of one’s saint is still more important in terms of family celebration than the birthday. Of course, this means that some days are almost national or regional holidays. El Dia de Joan (St. John) in Catalonia is one of them. Sometimes we have to hop from party to party for several hours to honor all of our friends with that name". RH: Be careful. My old colleague and friend Juan Bautista Rael celebrated John the Baptist's Day. He said St John's Day meant nothing to him.

Christopher Jones says:

"Your saints' day is the onomástica in Spanish. Like George Sassoon's Saint George (Good lord, what about all those Jordis in Catalonia?), Saint Christopher was also dumped in the politically correct trash by the Vatican, although in many cases these popular saints were later restored. As for la pascua and Pascual, you forgot to mention that the Spanish Army celebrates a "pascua militar" with all the appropriate church rites. RH: I did not attempt to list all the pascuas. I believe the "pascua militar" is celebrated on the day of the Virgen del Pilar in Zaragoza, where there is a military academy.

Christopher ends with a request:

"I am in a quandary and will ask my fellow WAISers for help: is anyone familiar with the Salesian order of Turin? I understand it is a very recent order but -- how do they dress? What are the known for? Who was Bosco? i believe they are well known in Latin America. Have they been involved in any skullduggery?


San Giovanni Bosco was an Italian priest (1815-1888) who founded the Salesian Order. As far as I know he was an honorable man, but in his flock there may have been a few black sheep. The Salesian Order is active in teaching.