Holy Week

This week marks the Christian Celebration of Holy Week, which in Christianity is the last week of Lent and the week before Easter.

Although observances vary by denomination, most all Christians observe at least some events from this week in some manner. While some Protestant traditions do not have elaborate special ceremonies but conduct more informal celebrations, often including sermons about the last week of Christ’s life, and possibly some special services on certain days, many mainline Protestant denominations as well as Roman Catholics and the Orthodox faiths generally have much ceremony and multiple special services during this time.

Holy Week includes the religious holidays of Palm Sunday, Holy or Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. The days between Palm Sunday and Holy Thursday are known as Holy Monday, Holy Tuesday, and Holy Wednesday. The Gospels of these days recount events not all of which occurred on the corresponding days between Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and his Last Supper.

Holy Thursday has a special celebration of The Mass of the Lord’s Supper which commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus with his Twelve Apostles, the institution of the Eucharist, the institution of the priesthood, and the commandment of brotherly love that Jesus gave after washing the feet of his disciples. Many Protestant churches make much of the foot washing ceremony on what is termed as “Maundy Thursday”, while for others it may be the only time in the year when Holy Communion is celebrated, while still other churches may celebrate versions of the Jewish Passover at this time.

For Roman Catholics, mass is not celebrated anywhere in the world after the evening mass on Holy Thursday until the Easter Vigil, celebrated shortly after sunset on Holy Saturday. In some Anglican churches, including the Episcopal Church in the United States, there is provision for a simple liturgy of the word with readings commemorating the burial of Christ.

Easter Sunday is generally not considered to be a part of Holy Week per se as it is generally considered to be the first day of the new season of the Great Fifty Days, or Eastertide, which is marked by the fifty days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday.