Every spring, Christians around the world gather to celebrate and remember the events of Holy Week, the seven days leading up to Easter. While you’re probably familiar with Easter Palm Sunday and some of the other Holy Week days, it’s important to learn about what happens on the days of Holy Week to understand the traditions and doctrine of Christianity.
Sunday: Jesus Arrives in Jerusalem
The Holy Week events begin with Easter Palm Sunday, the day when Jesus arrived in Jerusalem. His followers celebrated his arrival by lining the street and waving palm branches. Today, churches around the world reenact this on Easter Palm Sunday by decorating their churches with palm branches.
Monday: Jesus Clears the Temple
Upon arriving in Jerusalem, Jesus went to the temple, but when he arrived there, he found the courts outside full of corrupt money changers. Upset at these events, Jesus flipped over their tables and drove them out, restoring the sacredness of the temple. While this is an important lesson about the sacredness of the church, the list of what happens on the days of Holy Week doesn’t include any celebrations on Monday.
Tuesday: Jesus Visits the Mount of Olives
In the Holy Week timeline, Tuesday is when Jesus and his disciples visited the Mount of Olives. Here, he spoke in parables and prophecies. One of the most important events of Holy Week happened on this day: Judas Iscariot made his plans to betray Christ.
Wednesday: Holy Wednesday
On Wednesday, there are no specific events of Holy Week, but scholars speculate that Jesus’s day was likely spent visiting friends in the city. He and disciples probably also spent the day making plans for their Passover dinner.
Thursday: The Last Supper
In the Holy Week timeline, Maundy Thursday is the day when Jesus and his disciples celebrate Passover. During their Passover dinner, Jesus washed his disciples’ feet and served the first communion. These two acts remain important traditions in the church. After dinner, they went to the Garden of Gethsemane where Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss.
Friday: The Crucifixion of Christ
Good Friday is the most somber event on the Holy Week timeline, the day of Jesus’s death. Christians around the world gather for services, taking communion and often watching reenactments of the crucifixion. The Via Dolorosa and the Stations of the Cross are based on the events of this day.
Saturday: Jesus Lies in the Tomb
Saturday is one of the quiet Holy Week Days with no major events or celebrations. On this day, Jesus was dead and prepared for his burial by followers. On Saturday, he remained dead and buried in the tomb.
Sunday: Resurrection Sunday
Holy Week culminates with Easter Sunday, the most important Christian holiday at the foundation of all its beliefs. On Sunday mornings, Jesus’s followers found his tomb empty, and throughout the day, he appeared to multiple believers. To celebrate his resurrection, Christians attend morning services and spend the day celebrating their faith.
From Easter Palm Sunday to Resurrection Sunday, the Holy Week days commemorate the life of Jesus, his death and resurrection. Understanding what happens on the days of Holy Week is fundamental to Christian doctrine and understanding the religion.