The Christians observe Holy Saturday a day before Easter Sunday. It commemorates the day when Jesus Christ was buried in the tomb. Holy Saturday also marks the end of Lent, 40 days of preparation and fasting before Easter.
Holy Saturday is when the devout prepare themselves spiritually and physically before celebrating the resurrection of Jesus. This year, the festival will fall on the 16th of April.
History of Holy Saturday Celebration
It is said that after Jesus died, his body was taken down from the cross and placed in a freshly prepared tomb. The ancient scriptures prophesied that Christ would be resurrected on the third day of this death.
In the second century CE, people observed this day by keeping an absolute fast for 40 hours between nightfall and Good Friday. By Constantine’s realm in the fourth century CE, the night of the vigil Easter started Saturday at dusk. People would light the new fire in the form of lamps, candles, and paschal candles.
The history of fasting on this day has varied over the centuries. Fasting is considered a sign of penance. But on Good Friday, Christ paid with his own blood the debt of the sins of his followers. Thus, people have nothing to repent. For many centuries, they regarded both Saturday and Sunday as the days when fasting was forgotten.
Easter Vigil Mass
In the early church, Christians gathered on the afternoon of Holy Saturday to pray and confer the Sacrament of Baptism on catechumens converts to Christianity who had to spend Lent preparing to be received into the church.
Different Customs Associated with Holy Saturday
Holy Saturday is not celebrated in the same manner all over the world. Interestingly, different customs are associated with the celebration of this festivity among Christians. Also known as Easter Vigil, this day has many other different names. In Mexico, Holy Saturday is called Judas Day. The Mexicans burn the effigies of Judas, who betrayed Jesus, which led to his crucifixion.
In the Czech Republic, Holy Saturday is called White Saturday. There is also a vigil service on this day, an hour after sundown. It makes the wait before the resurrection of Jesus. The celebrations include lighting candles and fires denoting Christ’s passing from death to life. Some people also toll the bells to mark the end of Lent.
Other parts of the world celebrate Holy Saturday by preparing for Easter, such as coloring the eggs, decorating their houses, and making mouth-watering dishes.
Other Ways of Celebrating Holy Saturdays around the World
Catholics aren’t the only Christians to celebrate Holy Saturday. Here is how the other Christians celebrate the Holy Saturday.
- Protestant churches like Lutherans and Methodists consider this day as a day of contemplation between Easter services and Good Friday.
- Practicing Mormons hold a vigil on this day where people gather outside the church, make a fire pit, and light candles.
- Eastern Orthodox Churches celebrate the Great and Holy Saturday or the Blessed Sabbath when some parishioners attend vespers and listen to the Liturgy of Saint Basil.
- Russian Orthodox churches celebrate this day as a part of the week-long Holy Week. Saturday remains the last fasting day.
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