• How does the Church commemorate it?
• What is the Saturday before Easter Day called?
Holy Saturday is the day between Good Friday and Easter Day. It is a continuation of the sorrow of Good Friday, when Christians of all traditions remember the disciples’ hopelessness in the wake of Jesus’s death on the cross; when they are unsure whether to believe that he will rise from the dead, as he said he would.
For Christians today, Holy Saturday also looks forward to the knowledge of the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Day. But in the original pause between death and life, the disciples were apprehensive about what the future might bring and whether they could continue to have faith in the man they had been following, who now lay in a tomb.
In the early church, the day was marked by fasting and preparation. Many churches mark this day with an Easter Vigil after sunset on Holy Saturday, or sometimes early in the morning of Easter Day, with the lighting of candles representing the light of Christ. Congregations often gather around a fire outside a darkened church, from which the Easter (Paschal) candle is lit and brought inside. This depiction of new life and light represents Jesus’s resurrection on the first Easter morning. Parishioners then light their own candles from this main candle to symbolise their own coming into new life as followers of Jesus.
The service then includes Old and New Testament readings which recount the history of salvation and prepare the congregation for the celebration of the resurrection. Those new to the faith or those wishing to renew their baptismal vows can then be baptised, and to close the service, congregants share in the Eucharist.
‘Holy Saturday’ is also referred to as ‘Low Saturday’ (referring to ceasing of celebration) and sometimes ‘Easter Eve’.