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HOLY WEEK before Easter

HOLY WEEK before Easter

4/14/2014 8:00:00 AM

Holy Week is the last week of Lent, the week immediately preceding Easter Sunday.  It is observed in many Christian churches as a time to commemorate and enact the suffering (Passion) and death of Jesus through various observances and services of worship.

Holy Thursday
Holy Thursday is the day when all women are supposed to color bright eggs for Easter family gathering. Eggs as symbols of creation and new life have been exchanged for hundreds of years.

The concept of the red egg in the Christian traditional customs has been connected to a legend. Mary Magdalene, whom Jesus had cured from all the evil spirits within her, was the first one to see Jesus risen from the dead and she went around the world to spread the happy news. She reached Rome and Emperor Tiberiuss palace. According to the tradition, everyone visiting him was supposed to carry some sort of a gift to the Emperor. The rich people were carrying expensive gifts while the poor ones - whatever they could afford.
Mary Magdalene took an egg to Tiberiuss palace and handed it to the Emperor with the following greeting: "Christ has risen from the dead!" The Emperor could not believe what he heard and responded: "How could anyone ever rise from the dead! It is as impossible as that white egg to turn red right now..." While Tiberius was talking, the color in Mary Magdalenes hands started changing its color until it finally became bright red. The Easter greeting ever since has remained "Christ has risen from the dead"  and Christians all over the world color eggs in red (as well as various other colors) for Easter to celebrate their belief in the Resurrection.

In the Christian calendar that day is known as Maundy Thursday, Sheer Thursday, or Holy Thursday, meaning the Thursday before Easter. It celebrates Jesus's last supper before his execution. Traditionally, it is the day when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and told them to serve others as he served them. Consequently, in many churches, both Protestant and Roman Catholic, the priest or pastor washes the feet of the congregants on this day.

The Middle English word "Maundy", used only in this context, derives from Old French "mand" and from Latin "mandamentum" (i.e. commandment), in reference to the opening words of the Catholic liturgy for this day, Mandatum novum do vobis "a new commandment I give unto you" (John xiii:34), words spoken by Jesus to the Apostles after washing their feet in preparation for the Last Supper.

The day has also been known as Sheer Thursday, due to the idea that it is the day of cleaning ("schere") and because the churches themselves would switch liturgical colors from the dark tones of Lent.

Outside English-speaking countries it is universally known as Holy Thursday.

Good Friday (also Holy Friday)
The Holy Friday marks the respect of the entire Christian world to the crucified Jesus. Jesus was made to carry a heavy cross on his way up the Golgotha hill. There he was crucified on the cross by nailing his feet and hands to the cherry-wood cross. The blood of Jesus coming from his wounds has purified the sins of all human mankind. The suffering of Jesus was enormous but he never stopped praying for his tormentors. The priests take out the Jesus shroud at 11 AM in the middle of the churches and spread it on a special table. The believers cover it with flowers. The priests will serve a burial service for Jesus who died on the cross in the evening. The Christians walk around the inside of the church as if attending as funeral. Then they go under the table covered by the shroud for health. The flowers mounted on the shroud are given away to the people and they are believed to have the power to cure kids and sick people.

Good Friday is a special day celebrated by Christians on the Friday before Easter or Pascha. It commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Special prayer services are often held on this day with readings from the Gospel accounts of the events leading up to the crucifixion. Many Christians view Christ's crucifixion as a voluntary and vicarious act by which death itself was conquered, not as a temporary defeat overturned by His resurrection on the third day. In Early Modern English, good had a meaning of "holy". A "good tide" is, for example, Christmas or Shrove Tuesday.

Holy Saturday
It is also a time to remember family and the faithful who have died as we await the resurrection, or to honor the martyrs who have given their lives for the cause of Christ in the world.  While Good Friday is a traditional day of fasting, some also fast on Saturday as the climax of the season of Lent.  An ancient tradition dating to the first centuries of the church calls for no food of any kind to be eaten on Holy Saturday, or for 40 hours before sunrise on Sunday.

Holy Saturday (in Latin, Sabbatum Sanctum ), the 'day of the entombed Christ,' is the Lord's day of rest, for on that day Christ's body lay in His tomb. We recall the Apostle's Creed which says "He descended unto the dead." It is a day of suspense between two worlds, that of darkness, sin and death, and that of the Resurrection and the restoration of the Light of the World. For this reason no divine services are held until the Easter Vigil at night. This day between Good Friday and Easter Day makes present to us the end of one world and the complete newness of the era of salvation inaugurated by the Resurrection of Christ.

Easter is a Christian holiday commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead on the Sunday after his crucifixion on Good Friday and marking the end of Lent. Easter is the holiest day in the Christian calendar, followed by Christmas and is recognized as a legal holiday in most countries with a significant Christian tradition, with the notable exception of the United States where Easter is only celebrated on Easter Sunday (and not also on Easter Monday). The timing of Easter depends on the Jewish Pesach, in English Passover, (see 1 below), which commemorates the sparing of the Hebrew first-born, as recounted in Exodus, since it is during this holiday that Jesus is believed to have been resurrected. 

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