In most languages, the word “Easter” is derived from the word “Pesach,” the Hebrew name for the Passover holiday, a Jewish festivity that is directly related with the Catholic celebration. The Jewish Passover lasts between 7 and 8 days during which the exodus and liberation of the Israeli people from Egypt is remembered.
Early Christians transformed the celebration of the Jewish Passover into a celebration of Christ’s resurrection.
Each of the days of Holy Week has special significance.
Palm Sunday: Jesus arrives in Jerusalem, Holy Land. To remember the fervor with which he was received by his followers, today the faithful carry palm or olive branches, which are then burnt and the ashes collected for Ash Wednesday.
Easter Monday: Jesus heads toward the temple and finds it has been converted into a market. Confronted with this situation, Jesus ends up expelling the merchants from the holy place.
Easter Tuesday: Jesus announces his looming death, which creates a profound sadness among his disciples.
Easter Wednesday: Judas, one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, makes a deal with his enemies and offers to hand them Jesus in return for thirty silver coins.
Easter Thursday: the institution of the Eucharist in the Last Supper between Jesus and his disciples is remembered. Before dinner, Jesus washes the feet of each of his disciples as an act of humbleness. During dinner, Jesus ordains his disciples as priests and explains to them that from now on they will celebrate mass. After dinner, Jesus bids farewell to his mother and heads to an olive grove, where he is arrested to be held for questioning throughout the night.
Easter Friday: Jesus’ death on the cross is commemorated. Jesus is submitted to a trial during which he suffers indescribable tortures. He is given a crown of thorns and burdened with the cross. He is crucified and stabbed with a spear to verify his death. That same day, Judas hangs himself.
Easter Saturday: Mary remembers that Jesus had told her that he would be resurrected on the third day after his death. As of 6PM the Easter Vigil is celebrated, the holiest and most important night.
Easter Sunday: barely at the break of dawn, three women visit Jesus’ tomb and notice that he is not there. An angel tells them that Jesus has been resurrected.
Today, this celebration is commemorated by giving cute chocolate bunnies and painted eggs as gifts, which many parents hide for their kids to hunt on the following day. This is the symbol of renewed life.