Holy Saturday

Holy Saturday is the day celebrated after Good Friday and before Easter Sunday. This religious holiday commemorates the time that Jesus Christ was interred in his tomb after his death. It is also known by a variety of other names, including Easter Eve, Black Saturday, Joyous Saturday, The Great Sabbath, and the Saturday of Light. Sometimes this holiday is referred to as Easter Saturday.

History of Holy Saturday

Originally, Holy Saturday was celebrated by Catholics as a day of joy, much like Maundy Thursday used to be celebrated. This is why the holiday went by names such as Angelic Night and Great Saturday. However, the tone of the holiday has changed over the last few decades. It is now considered a day of reflection and solemnity. It is also considered by many to be the end of Lent—a time of sacrifice—and the eve of a time that is more upbeat and happy.

Up until the 7th century, Easter and Holy Saturday were often celebrated together. They would begin on the evening of Holy Saturday and then proceed all night to Easter Sunday. Around the 8th century, celebrations of this day began occurring earlier, until they were being celebrated starting in the morning hours. Some people would spend all of Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday fasting in observance of the holiday.

However, while this originally led to people celebrating the Easter holiday as two whole days instead of one, it eventually caused this religious holiday to break off from Easter Sunday and become its own day. During the mid-1950s, with the liturgical reformation, all of the ceremonies that occurred on Holy Saturday were officially moved back to Easter, although it was still traditional to observe a strict fast. Today, the rules of fasting have loosened, and those are no longer necessary to be performed by participants on Holy Saturday.

Holy Saturday Customs & Traditions

While Holy Saturday is not a national public holiday in the United States, Canada, or the United Kingdom, it is a public holiday in several other countries, including Australia, the Solomon Islands, Macau, Belize, Samoa, Hong Kong, Zimbabwe, Chile, El Salvador, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Nicaragua, and Seychelles.

Holy Saturday is celebrated in different ways in different countries. However, many celebrations of this religious holiday begin with some form of Easter Vigil on the evening of Holy Saturday. In some countries, particularly the United States and the United Kingdom, it is also customary for children to decorate eggs on this day. It is also customary for some people to light special white candles known as Paschal candles, which signify the light and promise of Jesus Christ.

In the United Kingdom, it is not uncommon for people to take Holy Saturday off to enjoy the long holiday weekend. They then use this time to spend with family or to head out on short road trips. In Los Angeles in the United States, it is common for those of Mexican descent to perform a “Blessing of the Animals” on this day.

Where is it celebrated?
Belize (Public holiday)Canada (Christian)El salvador (National holiday, christian) Show all
When is it?
This year (2024)
March 30 Saturday
Next year (2025)
April 19 Saturday
Last year (2023)
April 8 Saturday