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Holy Week in two minutes
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Millions of people around the world celebrate the Holy Week  in spring. This short video will explain the very basics of Easter: what it means for Christians and some vocabulary about it.

Want to know why Catholics wave palms on Palm Sunday; wash each other's feet on Holy Thursday; or kiss the cross on Good Friday? This two-minute video describes the final week of Lent Catholics spend preparing for Easter.


HOLY WEEK in two minutes.

Holy Week is the last week of Lent. For Catholics, it's final & intense preparation for Easter, that begins on PALM SUNDAY. We wave palms as a reminder of Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem.


The palm branch was a symbol of triumph & victory. Jesus' procession was like a modern day ticker tape parade. The people were celebrating because God had promised them a Messiah... And here he was. On Palm Sunday Catholics read "the Passion": The gospel narrative of Jesus' last hours of earthly life. Christ came to us to establish God's peaceful Kingdom in love. But within days, we turned on him.


Tonight, we read about Jesus washing the feet of his 12 apostles.


Love equals serving others. Jesus gets on his hands & knees and serves us, commanding we do the same:

"As I have done for you, you should also do." (John 13:15)

On Holy Thursday Catholics commemorate the institution of the priesthood & institution of the Eucharist. Priests often recommit to their vows of service & we are reminded that Jesus continues serving us through the gift of the Eucharist.


On this day, all Christians remember Jesus' crucifixion and death. This is the one day a year Catholics do not celebrate any masses. Catholics do gather to recall Jesus' Passion, pray for the world, and for the veneration of the cross. This is done by approaching the cross and kneeling, kissing, or touching it out of respect.


As a piece of cloth is cherished for what it symbolizes, a simple wooden cross is revered as a sign of Christ's victory.


After letting go, before something new, there is an awkward in-between. Christ is in the tomb, and we wait. When night falls, Catholics celebrate the Easter vigil.


New members are initiated into the Church, and the community renews their commitment to continue Jesus' work of building God's Kingdom through love.


Easter Sunday is not just the culmination of Holy Week, but the beginning of a whole new way of life. Every time Catholics celebrate mass, they celebrate these events. Every Sunday is an Easter, every communion, resurrection. Jesus' love, service and sacrifice present to us. Always.

Have a blessed Holy Week and a happy Easter!

"Easter" (or the Passover) is a Christian festival and holiday celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day after his crucifixion and death at Calvary. Properly, it is the Resurrection Sunday, the day after the Holy Week, but we often use it to include all the period of time comprising the Holy Week + Resurrection Sunday (8 days). Nevertheless, the preposition then changes:

On Easter = On Resurrection Sunday
At Easter= In the Holy Week (+ Easter Day)

Holy Week:
1st day= Palm Sunday
2nd= Easter Monday
3rd= Easter Tuesday
4th= Easter Wednesday
5th= Easter Thursday = Maundy Thursday
6th= Good Friday
7th= Easter Saturday = Silent Saturday
Easter = Resurrection Sunday (this is not part of the Holy Week, but the day after the Holy Week)

On Palm Sunday Christians celebrate the triumphal entrance of Jesus in Jerusalem, when people acclaimed him as the Messiah (the God-sent man who would save the people) waving palms (palm-tree branches) as they usually did to welcome kings and victorious people.

On Maundy Thursday Christians celebrate the Last Supper, when Jesus washed his disciples’ feet as a sign of service and love, and established the Eucharist.

On Good Friday Christians commemorate the death of Jesus on the cross.

Saturday is an interlude, Jesus is in the tomb.

Resurrection Sunday (Easter proper) commemorates Jesus’ resurrection, when he came back to life, and it’s the most important holiday for Christians (even more than Christmas).

Easter Sunday is preceded by a 40-day period of fasting (Lent) and followed by a fifty-day period called Easter-tide or the Easter Season, ending with Pentecost Sunday (= Whit Sunday), which celebrates when Jesus’ mother and the 12 apostles (his most important disciples) received the illumination of God’s Holy Spirit and started preaching and converting people to Christianity (the beginning of the Church)


Easter is one of the Christian “moveable feasts”, meaning it is not fixed in relation to the civil calendar. The events commemorated at Easter happened during the Jewish Pasch feast (the Passover), and the Pasch followed the Jewish calendar, which is based on the moon and the sun (a lunisolar calendar), and not on the sun as we do today (a solar calendar), so during the Pasch there is always full moon, and Christians had to translate that Pasch into their solar calendar, but trying to celebrate it according to the original Jewish calendar. For some reason that escapes me, the task was not so simple and there was a lot of discussion about how to best calculate the right date for celebrating Easter.

The First Council of Nicaea (325) finally established the date of Easter as the first Sunday after the full moon (the Paschal Full Moon) following the March equinox. Ecclesiastically, the equinox is reckoned to be on 21 March (even though the equinox occurs, astronomically speaking, on 20 March in most years), and the "Full Moon" is not necessarily the astronomically correct date.

To make things more complicated, in the Western Church (Catholics, Protestants, etc), Pope Gregory XIII made a reform of the Julian calendar in 1582 to make it more precise (Julian and solar calendars were not perfectly synchronized so the real solar equinox was slowly getting away from its original March 20-21 ), and the Gregorian calendar is the one we still used today. But most of the Easter Church (Orthodoxes) keeps calculating Easter date using the old Julian calendar (established by the Roman emperor Julius Caesar), so Easter date is usually different for the Western and the Eastern Church. [careful, don’t confuse “Easter” with “Eastern”]

The date of Easter therefore varies between 22 March and 25 April. Eastern Christianity bases its calculations on the Julian calendar, whose 21 March corresponds, during the 21st century, to 3 April in the Gregorian calendar, in which the celebration of Easter therefore varies between 4 April and 8 May.

Well, if you didn’t understand the calculations, don’t worry, I don’t either, but at least you can see that there is a reason for changing Easter date every year.


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© Angel Castaño 2008 Salamanca / Poole - free videos to learn real English online || InfoPrivacyTerms of useContactAbout
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