Holy Week starts with Palm Sunday on March 24 | PostIndependent.com

Holy Week starts with Palm Sunday on March 24

Easter comes early this year. Holy Week for Christians is March 24-31, and it includes Palm Sunday, Good Friday and Easter.

Several churches report they will have extra services for Easter, due to increased attendance for one of Christianity’s most important observances.

The Rev. Robert Sewell, at the First United Methodist Church in Glenwood Springs, said Palm Sunday, this year on March 24, commemorates the day when Jesus entered Jerusalem and was greeted by enthusiastic crowds, only days before his crucifixion.

Good Friday, five days later, marks the crucifixion of Jesus. Sewell said Methodists and other Christian denominations hold a Tenebrae service to observe this day. Tenebrae started in the 12th century, Sewell said. The service starts in a darkened room with several lit candles. One by one, the candles are put out until the room is completely dark.

Sewell said some churches hold a three-hour service on Good Friday, to mark the time that Christ hung on the cross. At some locations, the Passion Story or the Passion Play, which depicts Jesus’ life, is presented at outdoor theaters.

“Spearfish, South Dakota, is the closest place that presents the Passion Play,” Sewell said.

Easter, held two days after Good Friday, celebrates Christ rising from the grave after his crucifixion. “Some churches, but not many, also do an Easter Vigil on Saturday afternoon,” Sewell said.

Many churches and communities also hold outdoor, sunrise services on Easter.

The Easter date usually falls on the Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox. Easter can’t come before March 22 or after April 25. From 1980 through 2000, Easter fell as late as April 22, and as early as March 26, according to the 1992 World Book Encyclopedia.

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