Holy Week is the last week of the 40 days of Lent. It is the week right before Easter Sunday. It starts with Palm Sunday and ends with Holy Saturday. Many Christians celebrate Holy Week to commemorate the final days of Jesus. Holy Week has not always been celebrated. It was first observed about 600 to 1,000 years after the death of Jesus.
When Jesus arrived in Jerusalem on his donkey, there were many followers who wanted to see him. People crowded around him and called his name. Many called out “King” or “Savior.” Worshipers knelt down and waved palm fronds as Jesus passed by. Children and grownups wanted to hear him speak to them. They wanted to touch him. Sick people wanted their Savior to make them well. Another name for this day is Fig Sunday.
Holy Monday and Tuesday
Some people believe that on the Monday of Holy Week, Jesus freed the animals being sold and killed. The freeing of the many sheep and oxen has been compared to the slaves being set free. Tuesday is the day that the Pharisees got together and made a plan to gang up on Jesus and kill him. Holy Monday and Tuesday are not major days for celebration, but the events did lead up to Jesus' death.
Spy Wednesday is usually called Ash Wednesday. Judas had been Jesus’ good friend, but he got jealous that so many people loved Jesus. Judas got together with the Pharisees and said he would play a trick on Jesus and kill him. Today, many people go to church on Ash Wednesday to remember this day. A priest will put ashes from burned palm fronds on a person's forehead in the shape of a cross and say a prayer.
The Last Supper was on this day. Jesus sat down to eat with 12 other people. Those people were the disciples. His friend Judas was there that night. Jesus shared his bread and wine with everyone. He told the disciples that it was more important to serve someone else than to be served. He lovingly washed the feet of his disciples. After the meal was over, Jesus wanted to be alone to pray. Guards appeared a short time later and he was arrested.
Jesus was forced to make a huge cross and drag it up a hill all by himself. He had a crown on his head made of a branch of thorns. He was nailed to the cross by his hands and feet. One of the ways Good Friday is celebrated is by fasting, which means not eating at all. It is a day to mourn the death of Jesus, but also to celebrate that he gave his life for everyone.
Holy Saturday or Black Sabbath
After Jesus died, he was put in a tomb. The tomb was like a cave. The guards rolled a big rock in front of the opening to make sure that no one could get in or out. They knew that Jesus was dead, but they still wanted to close off the opening just to make sure he didn't get out. Some of the ways to commemorate this day are meditating, praying, and lighting candles in church.
- statue of jesus image by Joann Cooper from Fotolia.com