Calendar

Nov
25
Sun
The Lord’s Day
Nov 25 all-day

The Lord’s Day in Christianity is generally Sunday, the principal day of communal worship.

the-lord's-day-fun-heritageIt is observed by most Christians as the weekly memorial of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is said in the canonical Gospels to have been witnessed alive from the dead early on the first day of the week. According to some sources, Christians held worship on Sunday in the 1st century.

How to Celebrate?

  • Attend a Church service. Stay for the meet and greet following.
  • Say a prayer for the first person comes to mind.
  • Resolve to be a kinder person.

Did You Know…

… The earliest Biblical example of Christians meeting together on a Sunday for the purpose of “breaking bread” and preaching is cited in the New Testament book The Acts of the Apostles chapter 20 and verse 7 (Acts 20:7).

Nov
27
Tue
First Sunday of Advent in Canada
Nov 27 – Nov 28 all-day

Many Christians in Canada celebrate the beginning of the Advent season on the first Sunday of Advent. It marks the start of the Christian year in western Christianity. Its length varies from 22 to 28 days, starting on the Sunday nearest St Andrew’s Day and encompassing the next three Sundays, ending on Christmas Day.

advent-canada-st-stephens-church  Many church liturgies are used with the lighting of Advent candles in Canada. ©iStockphoto.com/Jasmin Awad


Many church liturgies are used with the lighting of Advent candles in Canada.

What Do People Do?

In the Roman Catholic Church and in some Anglican communities the third Sunday is called Gaudete Sunday, from the first word of the introit (psalm or antiphon) “Rejoice”. In some churches rose-colored vestments may replace the purple and flowers may be placed on the altar. In many eastern Christian churches, the church year begins in September 1 so Advent begins at a different time to when it starts in the western churches. The Eastern equivalent of Advent is called the Nativity Fast, which runs for 40 days. It is sometimes called Philip’s Fast, or the Philippian Fast, and begins on the day following the Feast of St Philip the Apostle (November 14).

Advent around the world is usually associated with the Advent calendars that parents give their children to help them count the days until Christmas. Preparation for Christmas is an important theme for Advent, particularly at the beginning. It is a time when the Christmas menu is planned, gifts are bought or made, then wrapped, carols are sung, Christmas cards are sent and houses are decorated with Christmas-themed lights and other decorations. Advent customs in some European countries, such as Germany, include lighting candles and hanging special Advent wreaths.

Public Life

The first Sunday of Advent is not a nationwide public holiday in countries such as Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. However, churches may be busy on this day, as are families who use the beginning of Advent as a time to prepare for the Christmas season.

Background

It is uncertain as to when exactly the celebration of Advent was first introduced in the Christian church. Some sources say that Advent began on November 11 (St Martin’s Day) at some time in the fifth century in the form of a six-week fast leading to Christmas. Advent was reduced to its current length at some stage in the sixth century and the fasting was later no longer observed.

It was customary, although no longer practiced, for poor women to carry “Advent images”, which were two dolls dressed to represent Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the northern parts of England. Those who saw the dolls were expected to give a donation in form of money and bad luck was believed to occur to those who were not visited by the doll-bearers before Christmas Eve.

Advent is originally a time to reflect and prepare for Christmas similarly to how Lent is in preparation for Easter. Advent has sometimes been referred to as the Winter Lent. In recent times the restrictions that Advent brings to Christians have become more relaxed.

Symbols

Purple is historically the main color used for Advent because it reflects penitence, fasting, and the color of royalty to welcome the Advent of the king (Jesus Christ). The focus of the entire season is the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ in his first Advent, and the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in his second Advent. Some churches use other colors in recent times. For example, some churches mark the third Sunday of Advent with pink or rose, colors that represent joy. Many Protestant churches use blue to distinguish the Season of Advent from Lent.

Advent wreaths are symbolic of Advent in some countries. They are usually made of fir and decorated with gold and silver ribbons or scarlet woolen threads. Lit wreaths may be displayed on the table where family and friends sit while singing carols and preparing handmade gifts.

Dec
2
Sun
The Lord’s Day
Dec 2 all-day

The Lord’s Day in Christianity is generally Sunday, the principal day of communal worship.

the-lord's-day-fun-heritageIt is observed by most Christians as the weekly memorial of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is said in the canonical Gospels to have been witnessed alive from the dead early on the first day of the week. According to some sources, Christians held worship on Sunday in the 1st century.

How to Celebrate?

  • Attend a Church service. Stay for the meet and greet following.
  • Say a prayer for the first person comes to mind.
  • Resolve to be a kinder person.

Did You Know…

… The earliest Biblical example of Christians meeting together on a Sunday for the purpose of “breaking bread” and preaching is cited in the New Testament book The Acts of the Apostles chapter 20 and verse 7 (Acts 20:7).

Dec
8
Sat
Feast of the Immaculate Conception
Dec 8 all-day

Many Christians, particularly those of Catholic faith, in Canada observe the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on or around December 8.

feast-of-the-immaculate-conception-st-stephens-church  Various statues and other forms of artwork on the Immaculate Conception often feature the Virgin Mary as a young woman. ©iStockphoto.com/Domenico Pellegriti


Various statues and other forms of artwork on the Immaculate Conception often feature the Virgin Mary as a young woman.

What Do People Do?

Some churches in Canada, particularly the Catholic churches, hold special services (or masses) to commemorate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on or close to December 8. The feast focuses on the concept that the Virgin Mary was conceived without sin. Many churches that observe the Feast of the Immaculate Conception are busy preparing for the occasion prior to its occurrence.

Many church-run schools teach their students about the observance and its meaning around this time of the year. Some people write feature articles about the observance in publications or gazettes that are centered on the theme of religion.

Public Life

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is an observance among many Christian churches but it is not a nationwide public holiday in Canada.

Background

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception centers on the belief that Jesus’ mother, the Virgin Mary, was conceived without sin. Pope Pius IX issued an apostolic constitution, known as the Ineffabilis Deus, on December 8, 1854. This document clarified the importance of the Immaculate Conception in the Catholic Church.

Symbols

Various paintings, statues and other forms of artwork have been made depicting the Immaculate Conception. Images of the Virgin Mary are shown in many of these artworks. Some churches and church-run schools in Canada are named in honor of the Immaculate Conception.

Conception Bay, in Newfoundland and Labrador, is named to commemorate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. People from Europe came to this area as far back as the early 1500s to use the bay for its rich marine resources.

Dec
9
Sun
The Lord’s Day
Dec 9 all-day

The Lord’s Day in Christianity is generally Sunday, the principal day of communal worship.

the-lord's-day-fun-heritageIt is observed by most Christians as the weekly memorial of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is said in the canonical Gospels to have been witnessed alive from the dead early on the first day of the week. According to some sources, Christians held worship on Sunday in the 1st century.

How to Celebrate?

  • Attend a Church service. Stay for the meet and greet following.
  • Say a prayer for the first person comes to mind.
  • Resolve to be a kinder person.

Did You Know…

… The earliest Biblical example of Christians meeting together on a Sunday for the purpose of “breaking bread” and preaching is cited in the New Testament book The Acts of the Apostles chapter 20 and verse 7 (Acts 20:7).

Dec
16
Sun
The Lord’s Day
Dec 16 all-day

The Lord’s Day in Christianity is generally Sunday, the principal day of communal worship.

the-lord's-day-fun-heritageIt is observed by most Christians as the weekly memorial of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is said in the canonical Gospels to have been witnessed alive from the dead early on the first day of the week. According to some sources, Christians held worship on Sunday in the 1st century.

How to Celebrate?

  • Attend a Church service. Stay for the meet and greet following.
  • Say a prayer for the first person comes to mind.
  • Resolve to be a kinder person.

Did You Know…

… The earliest Biblical example of Christians meeting together on a Sunday for the purpose of “breaking bread” and preaching is cited in the New Testament book The Acts of the Apostles chapter 20 and verse 7 (Acts 20:7).

Dec
23
Sun
The Lord’s Day
Dec 23 all-day

The Lord’s Day in Christianity is generally Sunday, the principal day of communal worship.

the-lord's-day-fun-heritageIt is observed by most Christians as the weekly memorial of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is said in the canonical Gospels to have been witnessed alive from the dead early on the first day of the week. According to some sources, Christians held worship on Sunday in the 1st century.

How to Celebrate?

  • Attend a Church service. Stay for the meet and greet following.
  • Say a prayer for the first person comes to mind.
  • Resolve to be a kinder person.

Did You Know…

… The earliest Biblical example of Christians meeting together on a Sunday for the purpose of “breaking bread” and preaching is cited in the New Testament book The Acts of the Apostles chapter 20 and verse 7 (Acts 20:7).

Dec
25
Tue
Christmas in Canada
Dec 25 all-day

Many Christians in Canada mark the birth of Jesus Christ on December 25, which is known as Christmas Day. It is a day of celebration when many Canadians exchange gifts and enjoy festive meals.

christmas-church-st-stephens  Christmas stockings near a decorated Christmas tree. ©iStockphoto.com/DNY59


Christmas stockings near a decorated Christmas tree.

What Do People Do?

Many Canadians have a day off work on December 25 and many spend the day with close relatives or friends. It is customary to exchange gifts, enjoy a special festive meal and, perhaps, attend a special church service. However, some people, particularly in Quebec, do some or all of these things on Christmas Eve as well as, or instead of, on Christmas Day.

The traditions centered on Christmas gifts in Canada vary a lot between families. In some families, a mythical figure called Santa Claus brings gifts. He travels on a sleigh pulled by reindeer, enters homes via the chimney and leaves presents and candy in Christmas stockings or in a pile under the Christmas tree. In other families, individual members exchange carefully selected gifts. Popular gifts are toys, games and candy for children and clothes, music, alcohol and practical or luxury items for adults. Canadians may open their presents on Christmas Eve after a special church service or during the morning or after lunch on Christmas Day.

Some people consume large quantities of food and drinks on Christmas Day. The day may start with a cooked breakfast, such as ham and eggs or pancakes. Lunch is often a very large meal with a stuffed or dressed roast turkey, potatoes, a selection of vegetables and cranberry sauce and gravy to add flavor. After the savory part of the meal, plum or Christmas pudding is traditionally eaten. Some families also eat a large evening meal, perhaps based around a leg of pork or ham, or re-heat the leftovers from the lunch. During the day, many types of sweet and savory snacks are served, including candy, oranges or mandarins, nuts and butter tarts or shortbread.

Public Life

Christmas Day is a national public holiday in Canada. Schools, post offices and many businesses and organizations are closed on Christmas Day. Some stores may be open. Many public transport services are closed or offer a reduced service. When Christmas Day falls on a Sunday or Saturday that is a non-working day, workers are entitled to a holiday with pay on the working day immediately preceding or following the general holiday.

Background

Many Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus of Nazareth in Bethlehem on December 25, although the true date and year of his birth is unclear. The tradition of celebrating his birth at the end of December may come from the widespread European tradition of celebrations around the winter solstice. Christians who follow the Eastern Orthodox tradition celebrate the birth of Jesus on January 7, while it is marked on January 6 by the Armenian Apostolic Church.

Symbols

There are many symbols of Christmas. These include images of baby Jesus and the Holy family in the stable, stars and Christmas trees. Another important symbol of Christmas is Santa Claus. This is a mythical figure with origins in European, particularly British, Dutch and German, cultures. He is a jolly man who wears a red suit, has a long white beard, lives at the North Pole and travels in a sleigh pulled by reindeer. On Christmas Eve, he travels to the homes of children and leaves them presents in Christmas stockings or under the Christmas tree.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), which monitors and controls the aerospace above the United States and Canada, even “monitors” Santa’s movements during November and December. Images and models of Santa Claus and actors playing his role can be seen in many places in the lead up to Christmas.

Dec
30
Sun
The Lord’s Day
Dec 30 all-day

The Lord’s Day in Christianity is generally Sunday, the principal day of communal worship.

the-lord's-day-fun-heritageIt is observed by most Christians as the weekly memorial of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is said in the canonical Gospels to have been witnessed alive from the dead early on the first day of the week. According to some sources, Christians held worship on Sunday in the 1st century.

How to Celebrate?

  • Attend a Church service. Stay for the meet and greet following.
  • Say a prayer for the first person comes to mind.
  • Resolve to be a kinder person.

Did You Know…

… The earliest Biblical example of Christians meeting together on a Sunday for the purpose of “breaking bread” and preaching is cited in the New Testament book The Acts of the Apostles chapter 20 and verse 7 (Acts 20:7).

Jan
6
Sun
The Lord’s Day
Jan 6 all-day

The Lord’s Day in Christianity is generally Sunday, the principal day of communal worship.

the-lord's-day-fun-heritageIt is observed by most Christians as the weekly memorial of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is said in the canonical Gospels to have been witnessed alive from the dead early on the first day of the week. According to some sources, Christians held worship on Sunday in the 1st century.

How to Celebrate?

  • Attend a Church service. Stay for the meet and greet following.
  • Say a prayer for the first person comes to mind.
  • Resolve to be a kinder person.

Did You Know…

… The earliest Biblical example of Christians meeting together on a Sunday for the purpose of “breaking bread” and preaching is cited in the New Testament book The Acts of the Apostles chapter 20 and verse 7 (Acts 20:7).

Jan
13
Sun
The Lord’s Day
Jan 13 all-day

The Lord’s Day in Christianity is generally Sunday, the principal day of communal worship.

the-lord's-day-fun-heritageIt is observed by most Christians as the weekly memorial of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is said in the canonical Gospels to have been witnessed alive from the dead early on the first day of the week. According to some sources, Christians held worship on Sunday in the 1st century.

How to Celebrate?

  • Attend a Church service. Stay for the meet and greet following.
  • Say a prayer for the first person comes to mind.
  • Resolve to be a kinder person.

Did You Know…

… The earliest Biblical example of Christians meeting together on a Sunday for the purpose of “breaking bread” and preaching is cited in the New Testament book The Acts of the Apostles chapter 20 and verse 7 (Acts 20:7).

Jan
20
Sun
The Lord’s Day
Jan 20 all-day

The Lord’s Day in Christianity is generally Sunday, the principal day of communal worship.

the-lord's-day-fun-heritageIt is observed by most Christians as the weekly memorial of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is said in the canonical Gospels to have been witnessed alive from the dead early on the first day of the week. According to some sources, Christians held worship on Sunday in the 1st century.

How to Celebrate?

  • Attend a Church service. Stay for the meet and greet following.
  • Say a prayer for the first person comes to mind.
  • Resolve to be a kinder person.

Did You Know…

… The earliest Biblical example of Christians meeting together on a Sunday for the purpose of “breaking bread” and preaching is cited in the New Testament book The Acts of the Apostles chapter 20 and verse 7 (Acts 20:7).

Jan
27
Sun
The Lord’s Day
Jan 27 all-day

The Lord’s Day in Christianity is generally Sunday, the principal day of communal worship.

the-lord's-day-fun-heritageIt is observed by most Christians as the weekly memorial of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is said in the canonical Gospels to have been witnessed alive from the dead early on the first day of the week. According to some sources, Christians held worship on Sunday in the 1st century.

How to Celebrate?

  • Attend a Church service. Stay for the meet and greet following.
  • Say a prayer for the first person comes to mind.
  • Resolve to be a kinder person.

Did You Know…

… The earliest Biblical example of Christians meeting together on a Sunday for the purpose of “breaking bread” and preaching is cited in the New Testament book The Acts of the Apostles chapter 20 and verse 7 (Acts 20:7).

Feb
3
Sun
The Lord’s Day
Feb 3 all-day

The Lord’s Day in Christianity is generally Sunday, the principal day of communal worship.

the-lord's-day-fun-heritageIt is observed by most Christians as the weekly memorial of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is said in the canonical Gospels to have been witnessed alive from the dead early on the first day of the week. According to some sources, Christians held worship on Sunday in the 1st century.

How to Celebrate?

  • Attend a Church service. Stay for the meet and greet following.
  • Say a prayer for the first person comes to mind.
  • Resolve to be a kinder person.

Did You Know…

… The earliest Biblical example of Christians meeting together on a Sunday for the purpose of “breaking bread” and preaching is cited in the New Testament book The Acts of the Apostles chapter 20 and verse 7 (Acts 20:7).

Feb
10
Sun
The Lord’s Day
Feb 10 all-day

The Lord’s Day in Christianity is generally Sunday, the principal day of communal worship.

the-lord's-day-fun-heritageIt is observed by most Christians as the weekly memorial of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is said in the canonical Gospels to have been witnessed alive from the dead early on the first day of the week. According to some sources, Christians held worship on Sunday in the 1st century.

How to Celebrate?

  • Attend a Church service. Stay for the meet and greet following.
  • Say a prayer for the first person comes to mind.
  • Resolve to be a kinder person.

Did You Know…

… The earliest Biblical example of Christians meeting together on a Sunday for the purpose of “breaking bread” and preaching is cited in the New Testament book The Acts of the Apostles chapter 20 and verse 7 (Acts 20:7).

Feb
17
Sun
The Lord’s Day
Feb 17 all-day

The Lord’s Day in Christianity is generally Sunday, the principal day of communal worship.

the-lord's-day-fun-heritageIt is observed by most Christians as the weekly memorial of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is said in the canonical Gospels to have been witnessed alive from the dead early on the first day of the week. According to some sources, Christians held worship on Sunday in the 1st century.

How to Celebrate?

  • Attend a Church service. Stay for the meet and greet following.
  • Say a prayer for the first person comes to mind.
  • Resolve to be a kinder person.

Did You Know…

… The earliest Biblical example of Christians meeting together on a Sunday for the purpose of “breaking bread” and preaching is cited in the New Testament book The Acts of the Apostles chapter 20 and verse 7 (Acts 20:7).

Feb
24
Sun
The Lord’s Day
Feb 24 all-day

The Lord’s Day in Christianity is generally Sunday, the principal day of communal worship.

the-lord's-day-fun-heritageIt is observed by most Christians as the weekly memorial of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is said in the canonical Gospels to have been witnessed alive from the dead early on the first day of the week. According to some sources, Christians held worship on Sunday in the 1st century.

How to Celebrate?

  • Attend a Church service. Stay for the meet and greet following.
  • Say a prayer for the first person comes to mind.
  • Resolve to be a kinder person.

Did You Know…

… The earliest Biblical example of Christians meeting together on a Sunday for the purpose of “breaking bread” and preaching is cited in the New Testament book The Acts of the Apostles chapter 20 and verse 7 (Acts 20:7).

Mar
3
Sun
The Lord’s Day
Mar 3 all-day

The Lord’s Day in Christianity is generally Sunday, the principal day of communal worship.

the-lord's-day-fun-heritageIt is observed by most Christians as the weekly memorial of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is said in the canonical Gospels to have been witnessed alive from the dead early on the first day of the week. According to some sources, Christians held worship on Sunday in the 1st century.

How to Celebrate?

  • Attend a Church service. Stay for the meet and greet following.
  • Say a prayer for the first person comes to mind.
  • Resolve to be a kinder person.

Did You Know…

… The earliest Biblical example of Christians meeting together on a Sunday for the purpose of “breaking bread” and preaching is cited in the New Testament book The Acts of the Apostles chapter 20 and verse 7 (Acts 20:7).

Mar
10
Sun
The Lord’s Day
Mar 10 – Mar 11 all-day

The Lord’s Day in Christianity is generally Sunday, the principal day of communal worship.

the-lord's-day-fun-heritageIt is observed by most Christians as the weekly memorial of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is said in the canonical Gospels to have been witnessed alive from the dead early on the first day of the week. According to some sources, Christians held worship on Sunday in the 1st century.

How to Celebrate?

  • Attend a Church service. Stay for the meet and greet following.
  • Say a prayer for the first person comes to mind.
  • Resolve to be a kinder person.

Did You Know…

… The earliest Biblical example of Christians meeting together on a Sunday for the purpose of “breaking bread” and preaching is cited in the New Testament book The Acts of the Apostles chapter 20 and verse 7 (Acts 20:7).

Mar
14
Thu
Good Friday in Canada
Mar 14 all-day

Good Friday occurs two days before Easter Sunday. It is the day when Christians commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, which plays an important part in the Christian faith. It is also a statutory holiday in all Canadian provinces and territories except Quebec, where it is partially observed.

Good Friday Church

Good Friday Church A depiction of Jesus on the cross.

What Do People Do?

Christians may attend special church services, even if they do not attend church regularly during the rest of the year. Good Friday is a day of mourning and quiet prayer among many Christians. The candles are often extinguished and statues, paintings and crosses may be draped in black, purple or gray cloth. Some Catholics observe a partial fast on Good Friday and do not eat any meat.

Hot cross buns are a traditional treat on Good Friday. These are small bread-like buns, made from dough that contains raisins, currants and other dried fruit. The top of a hot cross bun is marked with a cross and covered with a sugar glaze. The cross may be cut into the bun or marked with a special dough that remains pale even after it has been baked. Hot cross buns may be eaten as they are, split and spread with butter or toasted.

For Canadians who are not Christians Good Friday is the start of a three or four-day weekend. This is a welcome spring break, which some people use to visit family or friends. It is also a popular time to take a short vacation.

Public Life

Good Friday is a public holiday at a national level in Canada. Schools and many businesses and organizations are closed and many people have a day off work. Post offices are closed and in some areas, particularly in the provinces of Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador, stores are closed or have restricted opening hours. Public transport services many run to their usual or restricted timetables. In rural areas, public transport may close down completely.

In Quebec, Good Friday or Easter Monday are a statutory general holidays at the option of the employer. Schools and post offices are closed. Public transport services many run to their usual or restricted timetables. In rural areas, public transport may close down completely.

Background

Good Friday is the day when Christians commemorate the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. This is an important event in Christianity, as it represents the sacrifices and suffering in Jesus’ life. The crucifixion was the culmination of a number of events in Holy Week, including: the triumphal return of Jesus to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday; the washing of the disciples’ feet by Jesus; and the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday. The Easter date depends on the ecclesiastical approximation of the March equinox.

On Good Friday in 1964 (March 27), a large earthquake occurred when a fault between the Pacific and North American tectonic plates ruptured. The epicenter of the earthquake was near Prince William Sound in Alaska, USA, but also caused a tsunami. This damaged or destroyed more than 400 homes in communities on the west coast of Vancouver Island, including Port Alberni and Zeballos.

Symbols

The most important Good Friday symbol is the crucifix, or cross, which represents the way Jesus died. Some crosses bear a figure of Christ. Other symbols of Good Friday include black cloth used to cover the cross, paintings and statues in churches and some homes to signify mourning. In addition, some people deliberately create a bare appearance in their homes and churches by removing all flowers and shiny objects.

Mar
15
Fri
Holy Saturday
Mar 15 all-day

Holy Saturday commemorates the day that Jesus Christ lay in the tomb after his death, according to the Christian bible. It is the day after Good Friday and the day before Easter Sunday. It is also known as Easter Eve, Easter Even, Black Saturday, or the Saturday before Easter.

Holy Saturday Church

Holy Saturday commemorates the day that Jesus (sculpture of him pictured above) lay in his tomb after he died. He was resurrected on Easter Sunday, the day after Holy Saturday, according to Christian belief.
©iStockphoto.com/Edward Lin

What Do People Do?

Many Christians worldwide observe Holy Saturday by remembering it as the day when Jesus lay in the tomb. It is a day of both sadness and joy among Christians in many cultures. Many churches hold an Easter vigil (watch) service. Discussions about the meaning behind the rituals, prayer and symbols that are all part of the Easter vigil occur during these services. Some churches also hold large baptism services on this day.

Holy Saturday is known as Judas Day in Mexico, where people burn effigies of Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Street vendors sell the effigies, which range in height, and make Judas look as ugly as possible. Effigies designed for children are stuffed with candy and hung in patios at people’s homes. Other effigies are seen on the streets or hung on lamp posts. Firecrackers are attached to many of these effigies and are ignited as soon as the Mass of Glory is over. Children scramble for the candy inside the effigies after they explode.

A Czech custom, known as White Saturday, is to rattle keys and burn out Judas by burning the last of the holy oil before the church door. Holy Saturday is observed by the blessing of food and Easter baskets in Poland. Children in many countries spend time decorating and coloring eggs on the Saturday before Easter Sunday.

Public Life

Holy Saturday is a public holiday in many parts of Australia (where it is known as Easter Saturday), and in places such as (but not exclusive to):

  • Belize.
  • Chile.
  • El Salvador.
  • Hong Kong.
  • Macau.
  • Nicaragua.
  • Panama.
  • Papua New Guinea.
  • Samoa.
  • Seychelles.
  • Solomon Islands.
  • Zambia.                    
  • Zimbabwe.

Holy Saturday is not a national public holiday in countries such as Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Background

Holy Saturday is the last day of Holy Week and ends the season of Lent. It is also known as the Vigil of Easter. The day is traditionally a time of reflection and waiting. The vigil stems back to when Jesus’ followers spent this day waiting after his crucifixion on Good Friday. It is also known as the day when Roman governor Pontius Pilate instructed guards to be posted at the tomb to prevent Jesus’ followers from removing the body to claim that he had risen from the dead.

Holy Saturday was also known as Great or Grand Saturday, as well as the Angelic Night. It was the only Saturday on which fasting was permitted in the early days of the Christian church. According to some sources, fasting occurred during the entire day or lasted for 40 hours before the Easter Sunday sunrise during the first century CE. This day was a major day for baptisms in the early church. Many churches still hold large services for baptisms on Holy Saturday.

Some people refer to Holy Saturday as Easter Saturday but this is a misnomer, as Holy Saturday is the last day of Lent and the eve of Easter. The Saturday after Easter Sunday is known as Easter Saturday, or Bright Saturday. It is important to note, however, that Holy Saturday is often referred to as Easter Saturday by some government sources in countries such as Australia.

Symbols

The Paschal candle, which is made of white wax, symbolizes leading people out of the darkness into the celebration of the Easter vigil. The candle is marked with a cross, an alpha and an omega (the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet). This symbolizes that Jesus Christ has, and always will be with humanity, and is with humanity now, according to Christian belief.