What Is Christian Easter & Holy Week?
The Holy Week is among the many activities in the Christian calendar and is one of the most celebrated by Catholics and Protestants. Christian nations all over the world unite during this time, each with their own unique way of celebrating Christ's death and resurrection. Earliest catholic reference as to the celebration and observance of the Holy Week are found in the Apostolic Constitutions in the latter half of the 3rd and 4th century. Here, it is stated that abstinence from flesh is necessary, particularly on the Friday and Sunday of the week. Dionysius Alexandrinus wrote in his canonical epistle the 91 days of fasting, and also implied that the observance had already taken place in his time.
The celebration of the Holy Week varies within church traditions. Some would focus only on the last week of Jesus life; some celebrates on a wider scope the Passion of The Christ. The ways of celebrating vary from the usual liturgical services, home visits, novenas and inspirational talks. Within the walls of catholic custom, the week is concluded during the Easter Triduum, or a three day span supplementary to a church festival dedicated to prayers and other observance. It usually begins Thursday evening until Easter Sunday.
Holy Week Schedule
Holy Week starts with Sunday to commemorate Christ's Passion. In Roman Rite, it simply known as Palm Sunday sometime before 1955. In the successive years, it was called Second Sunday in Passiontide.
In commemoration, Palm Sunday or Passion Sunday relives Jesus? entrance into Jerusalem. It is customary to celebrate a mass before the blessing of palm leaves, or in some other countries, olive branches. The blessing usually takes place outside the church which also includes the reading of the Gospel that tells of how Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and how people greeted him with palms leaves. This is followed by a march into the church with constant waving of the blessed palm leaves and branches. Included in the mass is the reading of the Passion and the sequence of events of Jesus capture, suffering and death.
Holy Monday, Holy Tuesday and Holy Wednesday recount certain events following the days between Jesus? entry into Jerusalem up to the Last Supper.
Holy Monday or Great and Holy Monday tells the anointing of Jesus at Bethany, as stated in John 12:1-9, which is before Jesus entry into Jerusalem. Few Protestants also have special services during Holy Monday but does not generally follow those of Catholics?.
Holy Tuesday or Great and Holy Tuesday is the Tuesday of Holy Week, which precedes the commemoration of the death of Jesus. On this day the Church commemorates the Parable of the Ten Virgins.
Holy Wednesday, Spy Wednesday, or Holy and Great Wednesday commemorates the betrayal of Judas and the institution of the communion.
Maundy Thursday, also known as Holy Thursday, Covenant Thursday, Great & Holy Thursday, White Thursday, and Thursday of Mysteries; marks the day when priests consecrate the sacred oils. This is also where Jesus preached to the people of Jerusalem, especially with the children, reminding them that God is always there. A special mass is conducted during the morning of Holy Thursday by the bishop and priests belonging to the diocese since this observes Jesus? institution of priesthood and the Last Supper.
Good Friday, known also as Holy Friday, Black Friday, Great Friday, recounts the messiah?s crucifixion and His eventual death on the cross. Catholics all over the world are involved in fasting and penance among other exercises. Holy Saturday or Black Saturday is the day before Easter, is usually the time for preparations to most Christians. This day also remember the day that Jesus? body is laid on his tomb. Churches are stripped up to the point that it is almost bare. Sacraments like the Holy Communion is given only as Viaticum to the dying. Other sacraments like Baptism, penance and anointing of the sick are also done in the same fashion to the same persons.
Easter Sunday marks as the culmination not only of the Holy Week but also of the whole year and is considered the most important day of the church year and celebrates the resurrection of the Christ Jesus.