Many religious events are rooted around Easter, the most important and oldest festival of the Christian church, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus.
The holidays — Holy Week, Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday — mean different things to different people. Get to know these Easter events, what they mean and how they are observed.
Holy Week. Celebrated during the week preceding Easter, Holy Week is a time for Christians to commemorate the suffering and death of Jesus through worship services. The celebration includes Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and in some faiths, daily tributes.
Palm Sunday. Christians mark the last week of Lent with a movable feast the Sunday before Easter. Palm Sunday commemorates Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem amid palm branches and hosannas, according to gospels. Palms are distributed in church on that day’s Mass or service. The palms are carried in a procession while celebrants give thanks and praise to God.
Maundy Thursday. Often referred to as Holy Thursday, this day commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus and his Apostles the day before he was to be crucified. It is also the day that Jesus told his Apostles that one of them would betray him, causing his punishment and death. Many communities of faith will incorporate the washing of the feet, an act Jesus performed at the Last Supper, in their liturgy. The service is held, and afterward the church bells are rung and then remain silent until Easter — the day Christ rose from the dead. The word Maundy originates from the Latin word for commandment that begins the chant sung at the washing service.
Good Friday. Christians observe the day after Maundy Thursday as Good Friday, a day to remember Christ’s suffering and death on the cross. Jesus’ Last Supper predictions come to pass, and he is sentenced to death by crucifixion. In churches, altar cloths are removed, holy water fonts are emptied and no bells are to be rung. The liturgy of that day is in three parts: the liturgy of the word of God, the Veneration of the Cross and Holy Communion. Special prayers and devotions are made as acts of reparation for the suffering Jesus endured on behalf of mankind.