Holy Week 2024: how Orthodox Christians prepare for Easter in Ukraine

Holy Week 2024
Holy Week 2024

Holy Week, a fundamental component of the liturgical calendar, invites Orthodox believers into profound contemplation of Jesus Christ’s suffering before His crucifixion and descent into the underworld, with each day of this sacred period bearing significant importance as a crucial precursor to Easter.

Also known as Great Week, Holy Week spans seven days leading up to Easter in the Christian calendar, marking one of its most crucial and solemn periods. Commencing immediately after Palm Sunday, falling on April 28 in 2024, according to the church calendar, believers commemorate the final days of Jesus Christ's earthly life, encompassing his suffering and death.

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Holy Week in 2024 begins on April 29 and extends until May 4, consistent across both the old and new church calendars, derived from Easter Day.

Holy Week activities

For Orthodox Christians, Holy Week entails strict fasting, extensive prayer, and church services, all in anticipation of Easter. While communion and confession are available, it's advisable to partake before Friday.

Thoroughly cleaning the home during Holy Week is imperative, facilitating the preparation of dishes for the Easter table. Traditionally, on Maundy Thursday, believers cleanse their bodies and bake Easter bread, while rural residents sow early grains, such as peas.

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In terms of diet, fasting Orthodox believers adhere to strict rules:

  • Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday: abstain from food

  • Thursday and Saturday: consume hot dishes without oil

  • Good Friday: observe one-day fasting

Each day of Holy Week holds its own significance:

  • Holy Monday, April 29: Initiated with home cleaning and organizational tasks.

  • Holy Tuesday, April 30: Allocated for household chores, including washing and ironing clothes.

  • Holy Wednesday, May 1: Noted for heightened activity of evil spirits, prompting extra caution.

  • Holy Thursday, May 2: Designated as Maundy (Clean) Thursday, emphasizing life purification and the belief in bringing happiness through a church-lit candle.

  • Good Friday, May 3: Marks the crucifixion of Christ, observed with strict fasting, refraining from singing, rejoicing, and strenuous work.

  • Holy Saturday, May 4: Concludes Easter preparation with basket preparation and Easter bread decoration, culminating in an evening church service to usher in the holiday.

Holy Week restrictions

During Holy Week, adherents are bound by strict limitations:

  • Avoid violating fasting rules and engaging in entertainment.

  • Refrain from arguing, using negative language, or causing scandals

  • Abstain from heavy physical labor, while daily duties remain permissible

  • Postpone weddings or birthday celebrations

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine