*Editor’s note: This information was published in the April 2023 issue of Heartfelt Magazine, CHM’s monthly magazine that provides CHM membership-related tips and tricks, medical advice from doctors, testimonies from CHM members, and more. Please refer to the CHM Guidelines and applicable web pages for the most up-to-date information regarding CHM membership, sharing eligibility, and ministry news.*
Spring is here, and we have much to be thankful for. Holy Week, and the holidays celebrated that week, remind us of all that Christ has done for us—and the new life we have through Him.
Holy Week (or “Passion Week”), which traditionally occurs in March or April and is preceded by the 40 days of Lent, is the eight days of the Christian liturgical calendar that start with Palm Sunday and culminate with Easter Sunday. It’s a time of reflection, prayer, penitence, mourning, and celebration, that serves as a commemoration of the last days of Jesus Christ before His death, burial and resurrection.
Included in this cycle of holy days are, in order, Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday. Each marks a specific event in the last days of the life of Jesus, giving the committed observer a full picture of what the Messiah endured and accomplished for the sake of His people.
Palm Sunday occurs on the Sunday before Easter and commemorates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. According to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, Jesus entered the city on a donkey, and was greeted by a crowd of people who laid palm branches in His path, shouting "Hoshiana!” ("Save us!"). The event was, of course, a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies, and many people in Jerusalem believed Jesus was the Messiah.
The celebration of Palm Sunday as a Christian holy day is believed to have originated in the early church, although the exact date of its establishment isn’t known. The celebration of Palm Sunday became widespread in the Christian church by the 4th century, and it’s mentioned in many early Christian writings and documents from that time. Despite the lack of a specific date for the first celebration of Palm Sunday, it’s been a central part of the Christian liturgical calendar for over 1,700 years, and is now observed by Christians around the world
Maundy Thursday (or Holy Thursday) is celebrated on the Thursday before Easter and commemorates the Last Supper, when Jesus shared a Passover meal with His disciples before His crucifixion. During this meal, Jesus washed the feet of His disciples, demonstrating the importance of the humility. Maundy Thursday is often observed with special services and acts of devotion, including the celebration of the Eucharist and the reading of the Passion of Christ.
Despite the lack of a specific date for the first celebration of Maundy Thursday, it’s been a part of the Christian liturgical calendar for over 2,000 years. It’s marked by special services, including the washing of feet, the sharing of Communion, and the stripping of the altar, and is considered one of the most important observances of the Christian year.
Good Friday, celebrated on the Friday before Easter, commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. It’s one of the most solemn days in the Christian liturgical calendar and is a day of fasting, prayer, and reflection. The event is considered "good" not because of the violence done to Jesus, but because of its ultimate significance as the means of reconciliation between God and humanity.
The exact date of the first recorded celebration of Good Friday is not known, but it’s believed to have been observed by the early Christian church from a very early period.
Easter Sunday is a Christian holiday that celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. It’s considered the most important feast in the Christian liturgical calendar and is celebrated by Christians around the world as a celebration of new life and hope as demonstrated by Jesus’ triumph over death. Easter Sunday typically falls between March 22nd and April 25th.
While the first instance of Easter Sunday being celebrated as a Christian holiday isn’t known, it’s believed to have been celebrated as a day of rejoicing and celebration from an early period of the Christian church. Over time, the celebration of Easter Sunday has become a central part of the Christian liturgical calendar for over 2,000 years and is now observed by Christians around the world as the most important feast of the year.