Holy Week and Easter 2023: How Christians observe the religious holiday
Holy Week, the most important celebration for Christians honoring the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, is just around the corner.
The religious week begins on April 2, Palm Sunday, and ends on April 9, Resurrection Sunday, more commonly referred to as Easter Sunday.
Because the week usually coincides with Spring Break, many take advantage to travel and meet with loved ones. However, for faithful Christians, this final stretch of the Lenten season, which began with Ash Wednesday, is reserved for prayer and abstinence, an ideal time to practice faith and devotion to Jesus Christ.
Although Easter Sunday is celebrated by most Christians, the largest denomination that observes Lent and Holy Week is the Roman Catholic Church, and according to the Diocese of Phoenix, there are more than 1 million members in Phoenix.
“There are eight days, from Sunday to Sunday. It is the final stretch of Lent. Lent prepares us to live Holy Week, and Holy Week prepares us to live the Paschal Trio that is Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday,” said the Rev. Eleazar Perez-Rodriguez, the vicar of St. Matthew Parish in Phoenix.
Here's everything you need to know about the holy celebration.
How is the date of Easter determined?
This year, Holy Week will be celebrated from April 2 to April 9, according to the liturgical calendar of the Catholic Church.
The date changes each year because of the lunar calendar. This way, Easter Sunday always lands on the first Sunday after a full moon following the spring equinox. This year the equinox was on March 21, and the next full moon will be seen on April 6.
Holy Week important dates consist of:
Palm Sunday, April 2.
Holy Thursday, April 6.
Good Friday, April 7.
Holy Saturday, April 8.
Easter Sunday, April 9.
Why do we celebrate Holy Week?
Holy Week has a greater and deeper meaning because it recounts the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Perez-Rodriguez said.
“Holy Week for us is something very big, it is as if you have neglected something during Lent, even for a week you try to change your life, to convert to God, to give your best, to live in love, to leave what enslaves you."
What is Palm Sunday on April 2?
Palm Sunday celebrates the triumphant entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem, when the Jewish people recognized him as king.
“They had cloaks and palms and they shouted, ‘Oh heal and bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Long live the king of the Jews!' This is how the big week begins”, Perez-Rodriguez said.
What is Holy Thursday on April 6?
On Holy Thursday, the Catholic Church celebrates charity, love, the institution of the Eucharist and the priestly order.
“This day we commemorate or remember when Christ chose 12 disciples to call them apostles and took a tray and began to wash their feet, as a sign that he chooses us, not to serve him, but to serve others, as it was the Jewish tradition,” Perez-Rodriguez said.
On this day the priestly promises of chastity, obedience and poverty are renewed before a Bishop. And this is observed by recognizing and remembering The Last Supper, which symbolizes the institution of the mandate of love.
"The Last Supper is the first mass, the first time the Eucharist was celebrated," Pérez-Rodríguez said.
What is Good Friday celebrating?
On Good Friday, the Church celebrates the Holy Stations of the Cross, a total of 12 moments that tell the story of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In some cities and countries, the Holy Stations are celebrated as a live performance, where parishioners act out each one of the stations.
During Good Friday, the seven words that Christ pronounced before dying on the cross, his crucifixion and his death are all celebrated.
What is Holy Saturday on April 8?
Considered to be a day of no activity as parishioners mourn the death of Christ, churches do not practice mass.
Once the sun goes down, a bonfire is started symbolizing the blessing of fire, an act celebrated as the Easter Vigil.
Baptismal promises are renewed for people who are over the age of 6 and have been preparing throughout the year to receive three of the Seven Sacraments of the Church — baptism, first communion and confirmation.
Easter Sunday is on April 9
This day celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. As the Bible says, on the third day after being crucified, Jesus rose again proving that he is the savior of the world.
On this date, different activities are carried out such as processions and masses that celebrate the last day of Jesus on earth.
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Holy Week and Easter 2023: How Christians observe the religious holiday