Easter Sunday is often described as the holiest day on the Christian calendar. A day when Christians across the globe commemorate and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Easter Sunday is the culmination of the Lenten season of sacrifice.
Easter Sunday comes on the heels of Holy Week, which is the most sacred week in the liturgical year in Christianity. Holy Week consists of various days that have their own special significance in the minds and hearts of Christians.
Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week. Trinity College at the University of Melbourne notes that Palm Sunday commemorates Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, where He was greeted with crowds that enthusiastically waved palm branches. In commemoration of that entry and greeting, Christians receive palm branches or palm crosses during Palm Sunday Mass.
Holy Wednesday Once known as “Spy Wednesday,” Holy Wednesday focuses on the darkness of Holy Week and is meant to symbolize the abandonment of Jesus by His disciples. The religious service of Tenebrae, which is a Latin word meaning “darkness” or “shadows,” is typically observed during Holy Wednesday services.
Maundy Thursday commemorates the Washing of the Feet (Maundy) and the Last Supper. The Last Supper is the final meal Jesus shared with his apostles prior to His crucifixion. Christian scriptures indicate that, during the Last Supper, Jesus predicted His betrayal by one of the apostles present at the meal. It was also during the Last Supper when Jesus foretells that Peter will deny knowing Him three times before the next morning. Trinity College notes that Maundy Thursday reminds Christians of the new commandment that Jesus gave His disciples. That commandment was to love others as Jesus has loved them.
Good Friday commemorates the trial of Jesus, His subsequent sentence of death, His torture, the crucifixion and burial. Non-Christians may wonder why a day commemorating such events would be characterized as “good,” but Trinity College notes that, in this sense, the word “good” is meant to connote something “holy” or “pious.”
Holy Saturday marks the conclusion of Holy Week. Celebrations of Holy Saturday typically include a late-night Easter Vigil service that involves a liturgy and ultimately the celebration of the Eucharist. The two-part celebration is designed to commemorate the emergence from darkness into the light that is the Eucharist.
Holy Week is a significant period for Christians across the globe that commemorates many of the events that preceded the resurrection of Jesus Christ.