Religious holidays have a way of bringing people together and this is why we celebrate Holy Saturday on April 16this year. Holy Saturday marks the last day of the Holy Week. Jesus was laid to rest on this day. He was enclosed inside a tomb whilst his followers held a 40-hour vigil in his honor. All over the world, people also observe the last day of their Lent on this day, which they had begun months prior. Lent is a period of reflection and preparation for Easter Sunday. During this time, many people around the world give up one thing that they absolutely love. Traditionally, people abstain from eating certain food items, usually their favorites.
History of Holy Saturday
Holy Saturday in Christianity holds a lot of significance due to the dark and light elements it encompasses. There’s much to take away from the day’s events due to the lessons it imparts. Let’s take a closer look at its history.
In Holy Week, Holy Saturday is the last day of the week, falling after Good Friday and before Easter Sunday. The date is decided using the Ecclesiastical Tables that was composed by the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. The date of Holy Saturday and, by extension, Holy Week, determines the date of Easter Sunday as it occurs on the spring equinox’s first full moon.
On Holy Saturday, Jesus was laid to rest by his followers, all of whom observed a 40-hour-long vigil outside his tomb. The 40-hour vigil also saw people observing Lent. The early church celebrated Lent with large baptism ceremonies. However, the tradition died down some time later due to many Christians’ suspended state, especially those belonging to the Western Churches. Even so, many still observe Lent in the Eastern Churches.
Many accounts state that Jesus, during his state of death, went to hell to save and retrieve the souls of good people, including Adam and Eve. There are different versions out there, but the spirit of unity remains in the celebrations of Holy Saturday. The day is also known as the Great and Holy Saturday, or as the Great Sabbath in most Eastern Churches, or as Hallelujah Saturday (Brazil and Portugal). Regardless of the differences, the day is celebrated with much unity and traditions.
Holy Saturday timeline
Jesus’ followers fast for a whole day (or 40 hours) before breaking it at Easter Sunday’s sunrise.
The bishops of Alexandria and Constantine use the name ‘Holy Week’ for the first time, adding other days apart from the already celebrated Good Friday and Holy Saturday.
Pope Pius XII shifts the Easter Vigil hour from Holy Saturday sunrise to the hour after the day’s sunset.
People follow strict abstinence rules before their revision in 1969
Holy Saturday FAQs
What can I expect on Holy Saturday?
There are a number of ceremonies that take place. After darkness sets in for the day, there are services and liturgies, baptisms, and Eucharist.
Did Jesus free all the souls from hell on Holy Saturday?
No, Jesus did not free all the souls from hell while he was dead. He only freed those souls that belonged to good people, like Adam and Eve.
How exactly did people reflect during the first Holy Saturday?
People were asked to rest and not indulge in any activities during the first Holy Saturday. Some women prepared spices and ointments to anoint Jesus’ dead body, but they were instructed instead to go back and spend the day resting and reflecting.
How to Observe Holy Saturday
Observe lent with your loved ones
Lent is a time of reflection on the way we lead our lives. By giving up one thing that we absolutely love, you will be joining in with many around the world in a sign of unity against darkness.
Visit your local church for Easter Vigil
To truly immerse oneself in the experience, one must get into the thick of the festivities. And one way to do that is by visiting a church and participating in the ceremonies. There are universal lessons in every religion and, by learning about other religions, we can hope to understand each other better.
Learn about other Holy Saturday traditions
There are different customs and traditions that people indulge in during Holy Saturday. Each varies according to region and culture. Learn about the different types of celebration ways and, if possible, visit the church, too, to see the whole ceremony in action.
5 Facts About Easter Vigil Will Blow Your Mind
No marriage celebrations on Easter Vigil day
It is forbidden to celebrate new marriage celebrations on Easter Vigil day as it is meant to be a day of reflection.
Easter Vigil to always be celebrated at night
It is strictly instructed to always celebrate Easter Vigil at night and have it finished before daybreak the next day.
Easter Vigil fire lit with a flint
Before the liturgical changes came into full action, the Easter Vigil fire was lit with a piece of flint to symbolize Jesus’ tomb.
Baptismal water blessed without candidates
Even if no candidates for baptism are present, the baptismal water is still blessed as a sign of celebration of Jesus’ Passover.
Vigil is a Latin word
The word ‘Vigil’ comes from Latin (‘vigilia’), and it means ‘wakefulness.’
Why Holy Saturday is Important
It’s a celebration of dark and light
Without darkness, we wouldn’t be able to appreciate light in its full glory. While Holy Saturday marks a day of sorrow, it is also a reminder of the light that is waiting for us at the end of the tunnel.
It’s a celebration of different religious traditions
Religious holidays and occasions tend to have, more or less, the same values and lessons all over the world. However, the whole deal becomes interesting when different cultures and histories imbibe it with their own colors.
It’s a celebration of the spirit of unity
It was during the times of Jesus when the original Holy Saturday Vigil took place. And, today, people are following a similar tradition with Easter Vigil. One thing that unites people over the barriers of time is their faith for hope and a better tomorrow during these ceremonies.
Holy Saturday dates