When is Holy Saturday?
Holy Saturday is the Saturday after Good Friday, and before Easter. All of three of these days hold individual significance to Christians. Easter Sunday is the day Jesus rose from his tomb, but Christians commemorate Holy Saturday as remembrance of him lying in the tomb.
A Brief History
Holy Saturday represents both the joy and the sadness experienced by many Christians around the time of Easter. While they express joy in the life and sacrifices made by Jesus, his death is certainly a tragic event. The name of “Good” Friday, the day of Jesus’ crucifixion, expresses these two opposing sentiments. Christians have regarded Holy Saturday as one of the most important days of Holy Week, which is the week of Easter. It is also the end of Lent in the Catholic Church.
Vigil and Celebrations
One of the most common traditions associated with Holy Saturday is a vigil. Also called an “Easter Vigil,” this event has evolved throughout the years. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the vigil was prominent as early as the sixth century. During this time, Christians would hold all-night vigils, which would often last into Easter morning. The purpose was to hold out and celebrate until the estimated time of Jesus’ resurrection.
Since then, the Easter Vigil is not as strict. Some churches hold vigils on Saturday morning or afternoon, and people are allowed to return home in time to prepare for the festivities of Easter Sunday. Holy Saturday services often include candlelit prayers, and perhaps even baptisms. Those who cannot make church services on Holy Saturday may instead hold a private vigil with candles and prayers at home.
A less common tradition is fasting. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, it was common within the first two centuries to fast for the forty hours leading up to the Easter feast. While some Christians still choose to fast, this tradition is not as strictly enforced due to reasons related to health and practicality.
From a lighter perspective, Holy Saturday marks an opportunity to prepare for Easter festivities. This can include arranging for Easter outfits and church services, as well as preparing for egg hunts.
With the exception of Christmas, Christian holidays don’t always fall on the same date on the modern 12-month calendar. Just like Easter Sunday, Holy Saturday can occur as early as late March, and as late as the end of April. Easter is determined by the March equinox, as well as the date of Passover. Since Holy Saturday is always the day before Easter, the date varies. In 2013, Holy Saturday occurred on March 30th, while it fell on April 19th in 2014. The next time Easter and Holy Saturday will fall on a March date will be in 2016.