Holy Saturday is the day which is celebrated after Good Friday and before Easter Sunday. This religious holiday commemorates the time that Jesus Christ was interned in his tomb after he died. It is also known by a variety of other names which include Easter Eve, Black Saturday, Joyous Saturday, The Great Sabbath and the Saturday of Light. Sometimes this holiday is referred to by the name 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. Which is why the holiday went by the names Angelic Night, Great Saturday or Holy 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 to a time that is a little 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 would proceed all night to Easter Sunday. About the 8th century, celebrations of this day would occur earlier and earlier, until it was 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 would lead to people celebrating the Easter holiday as two whole days, instead of one, it would eventually cause 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 returned back to Easter, although it was still traditional to observe a strict fast. Today, the rules or 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 or in Canada and the United Kingdom, it is a public holiday in several other countries which include: Australia, 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 signifies the light and promise of Jesus Christ.
It is not uncommon in the United Kingdom 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.