Easter is about celebrating new life

The real meaning of Holy Week

Easter Sunday is fast approaching and chocolate will be back on the menu. For many, Easter Sunday means the end of sacrificing luxuries. It’s easy to forget that Easter is about celebrating new life and the revival of our Lord. Coming up to the day, there are other occasions that celebrate the true meaning of Easter, starting with Palm Sunday.

Palm Sunday is one of the most important celebrations of Jesus’ ministry. It celebrates His entrance into Jerusalem and marks the beginning of Holy Week, and the events leading up to His death and resurrection.

The Bible tells us that the crowd waved palm branches in the air to celebrate His arrival, and laid them down at his feet while shouting  “Hosanna to the Son of David” and “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” to honour him as their long-awaited Messiah and King. In Ireland we receive palms at Mass and for some families it is tradition to bring them home to display until the end of Easter.


Following Palm Sunday, we celebrate the Triduum; this begins with Holy Thursday. The liturgy is celebrated in the evening because Passover began at sundown. After the Last Supper, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples to cleanse them of their sins.

Throughout the Holy Thursday liturgy, the priest washes the feet of 12 people; these can be priests, nuns or you can volunteer yourself to have your feet washed. This act is how this day of the Holy week earned its other name; Maundy Thursday.

Good Friday is when Jesus was crucified. The day has a sense of mourning to it and this is reflected in the liturgy. Usually throughout the year, Mass reminds us of Jesus’ triumph over death. On Good Friday, the altar is stripped bare and the organ remains silent from Holy Thursday to the Easter Vigil.

Throughout the day you can attend the Stations of the Cross or a passion play coordinated by your local parish. Fasting throughout the day is tradition and some continue to fast on Holy Saturday.

The Easter Triduum finishes on this day with the Easter Vigil. Because Jesus paid for our sins with his blood on Good Friday, Holy Saturday is the last day of Lent but it is common to continue repenting until Easter Sunday arrives.