Hello and welcome back to A phrase a week. With the great feast of Pascha (Easter) coming up, I’ll be looking at a few phrases that connect us to what is to many of us the greatest religious festival.
Christians start preparation for this feast seven weeks before. The 40-day fast which ends about 9 days before Easter is called (in both Eastern and Western traditions) simply Lent or (in the East) Great Lent. This is followed by the Saturday and Sunday before Easter which make the transition to the last seven days. They are called Lazarus Saturday (when we commemorate the raising of Lazarus – the greatest miracle Jesus worked) and Palm Sunday (when we celebrate Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem).
Fasting does not end with Palm Sunday. It becomes even stricter the following week which is called Holy Week or Passion Week. It is a special time when we remember the Lord’s Passion (suffering), His death and burial. Today is Holy Friday or Great Friday, known as Good Friday in the Western tradition. Yesterday was Holy Thursday (or Maundy Thursday in the West) and tomorrow will be Holy Saturday.
The journey ends on Saturday night or Sunday morning when Pascha begins. In Eastern Christianity this word is considered more appropriate as the term Easter makes reference to a pre-Christian spring time celebration that had nothing to do with the Resurrection of Jesus, which we celebrate on this day. The following week is called Bright Week and, as you all know, it reflects the joy of the Resurrection. But until then, there are two more days of mourning, days on which we remember how, about two thousand years ago, men killed God.
Have a blessed Pascha!