Best time to go to Jerusalem

Holy Week & Easter 2024

There is no better place to experience Holy Week than the Holy Land, where it all occurred

Dates: Catholic: March 24–31, 2024 | Orthodox: April 28–May 5, 2024

Holy Week & Easter
Holy Week & Easter
Holy Week & Easter
Holy Week & Easter
Holy Week & Easter

While millions of Jews celebrate Passover (Pessach), thousands of pilgrims flock to the Holy Land for the most important week in the Christian calendar. It's the most iconic place to commemorate the last days of Jesus' life which he spent in Jerusalem. The central days of the Holy Week are Palm Sunday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and the culmination falls on Easter Sunday. Jerusalem hosts a Holy Week for both Catholic and Orthodox communities. The celebrations are quite similar, however, there are differences in rituals as well as dates.

Palm Sunday (Catholic: March 24, 2024 | Orthodox: April 28, 2024)

The official beginning of the celebration falls on Palm Sunday on the respective date for each denomination—the day when Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey and was hailed with palm leaves. This triumphant entry to the city is reenacted in the afternoon after the morning Mass. Thousands take part in the palm procession to the Mount of Olives. Typically, the procession route passes by the Church of All Nations, Saint Anne Church, St. Steven’s Gate, also known as the Lions Gate, the Old City, and the Via Dolorosa. On the way, pilgrims pray and sing religious songs in all languages.

Good Friday (Catholic: March 29, 2024 | Orthodox: May 3, 2024)

On Good Friday, the Old City is packed with pilgrims eager to follow Jesus's steps up to Golgotha, where he was crucified. The procession, called The Way of the Cross, starts at 11:30 am, departing from Station I on the Via Dolorosa. You're highly recommended to come early if you want to see the details. However, be prepared for the crowds and don't forget about good manners. Some pilgrims act outrageously, trying to pave their way for themselves. But this is a solemn procession—no room for impatience.

The burial of Christ in Holy Sepulchre

Also, on the evening of Good Friday, believers reenact the burial of Christ, taking the body into the tomb at the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre. This fourth-century church is exceptionally important and absolutely sacred for the Christian community, as it claims to be the place of Jesus' crucifixion and burial tomb. Eastern Christians have their own name for Holy Sepulchre—the Church of the Resurrection or Church of the Anastasis, where Anastasis means Resurrection in Greek.

Holy Fire on Holy Saturday (May 4, 2024)

While Holy Saturday might not have a particular significance elsewhere, it's a highly anticipated day in Jerusalem's Orthodox community. Again, thousands of Christians from all over the world gather in the Church of Holy Sepulchre to witness a miraculous ceremony of the Holy Fire that takes place on the Saturday before Orthodox Easter. The light is supposed to come from Christ's tomb to light up two large candles miraculously. Then, the Patriarch lights up a candle and spreads the Holy Fire to the entire congregation.

Easter Sunday (Catholic: March 31, 2024 | Orthodox: May 5, 2024)

Easter Sunday brings the joy of the Resurrection of Christ. This day is marked with grand masses, and overwhelming joy (sometimes also the tears of joy) might be seen in the eyes of religious Christians. They surely will remember the Holy Week lived through amidst the original settings of Jerusalem.

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Last updated:
Authors: Olha Savych