Home VocabularyHot topics Happy Easter, have you got enough dough?

Happy Easter, have you got enough dough?

by Bernard O'Shea

Hello and happy Easter from My Five Romances, even if the 2020 version is very sombre and celebrations have had to be curtailed. Still, judging by social media, people in quarantine or social isolation at home have been doing a lot of baking. Home cooking has become a theme for 2020.

Those cultures that celebrate Easter each have their own ways of doing it. In the Portuguese-speaking countries you will probably be offered massa sovada (which translates as kneaded dough, massa being the word for dough). Massa sovada is a sweetbread, and like many Portuguese cakes and pastries, it contains heaps of sugar and lots of egg. Some flour too, I would guess. I believe it originated in the Azores (a recipe is here). A good Portuguese cook that I know adds a nice touch – she boils eggs in water and cochineal (which, as I have just discovered by looking up that word, comes from a scale insect!) to give the shells a pinkish hue, and then puts the eggs in the dough to bake. The photo at top features her creations (forgive the styling, I did it! Style is not my forte.)

In Orthodox countries, particularly Romania, painting eggs is an Easter tradition and it is a highly regarded art form (you can buy wooden ones as souvenirs). Indeed, my Colloquial Romanian, published by Routledge, features a gorgeous collection of eggs on the front cover. This is the third edition.

Painted Easter Eggs on the cover of the Colloquial Romanian text book

How do you like these eggs?

Routledge also publishes text books in my other Romance languages in its Colloquial series and has many dictionaries and other useful linguistic texts too.

Easter greetings and phrases in my five Romances


Happy Easter is joyueses Pâques (for some reason it’s plural) and an Easter egg is un oeuf de Pâques. Round about this time of the year, people like to partir à la chasse aux œufsto go on an egg hunt, which is more fun when the eggs are made of chocolate, isn’t it?


Happy Easter is feliz Pascua; an Easter egg is un huevo de Pascua. Los saludos de Pascua are Easter greetings. Spanish has other interesting expressions: de Pascuas a Ramos means once in a blue moon (literally from Easter to Palm Sunday); …y santas pascuas… means … and that’s that; hacerle la pascua a alguien is to mess things up for someone. Which is what coronavirus has done. And, strangely, Pascuas in the feminine plural form means Christmasfelices Pascuas is Merry Christmas


Unlike Spanish, Portuguese seems to have very little in the way of Easter idiomatic excitement. Happy Easter is feliz Páscoaan Easter egg is um ovo de Páscoa; and o coelho da Páscoa is an Easter bunny.


Happy Easter is buona Pasqua (it’s more common to say ‘good Easter‘); best wishes for Easter is auguri di buona Pasqua; an Easter egg is un uovo di Pasqua; a common question is cosa fai per Pasqua?what are you doing at Easter? The common answer this year is, staying at home!


Happy Easter is Paște fericit; an Easter egg is un ouă de Paște; the painted eggs are often called oua încondeiatewritten eggs (think of it as an extremely elaborate calligraphy). 

This time last year I was on holiday in northern Portugal over Easter. This year I had planned to go to New Caledonia for the Easter break, to refresh my French, but instead I am being sensibly anti-social. Let’s hope Easter 2021 will be more joyful. M5R

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Trish Whytock 03/04/2013 - 3:39 am

… and a Happy Easter to you too – lucky chap having Maria to make such delicious looking Easter breads. Here I have to slave over the hot stove AND oven! xx Ciao

Bernard O'Shea 03/04/2013 - 6:50 am

Hello, how was your Easter? Yes the massa sovada is good, better than the commercial brioche that we can buy in the shops. She makes at least a dozen loaves as Easter approaches and gives them out to friends and neighbours. Aren’t we lucky? I am sure people appreciate your efforts too. I remember your great breakfasts! Cheers

Bernard O'Shea 20/04/2014 - 12:57 pm

Reblogged this on My Five Romances.


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