Observe Holy Week

Personal Disciplines:

  • Think Prayer: If you have to work or go to school during Holy Week, think about how you can incorporate prayer breaks into each day.
  • Make an additional sacrifice by fasting and abstaining from meat on Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday in addition to Good Friday.
  • Don’t watch television from sundown on Holy Thursday until Easter morning.
  • Go to confession. 
  • Set aside 10 minutes every day to read Passion accounts in the Gospels.
  • Make it a point to forgive someone on Good Friday.
  • Pray the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary.
  • Offer up any pain or difficulties you experience during Holy Week and unite your sufferings with the pain of Christ.
  • Pray the Stations of the Cross.
  • Attend all of the Triduum liturgies.
  • Invite family members, friends and neighbors — especially people who have strayed from the church — to come to church with you.2

Traditions

  • Housecleaning: In many cultures the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week are designated as days for vigorous housecleaning in preparation for Easter. This custom probably evolved from the Jewish custom of ritual cleaning before Passover.
  • Visiting churches: The custom of visiting several churches to say a prayer on Holy Thursday was a tradition that evolved from the practice of making pilgrimages to holy places.
  • Sweet breads: In many cultures, Holy Week was traditionally a time for baking sweet breads, cakes and pastries that would be served on Easter Sunday.
  • Coloring eggs: Decorating eggs was a pagan symbol of rebirth at springtime for the Romans, Greeks, Egyptians, Persians and even the Chinese. Christians adopted the colored egg as a symbol of new life which comes with the Resurrection.
  • New clothes: From the time of the early Christians, the newly baptized wore white garments made from new linen. In medieval times, it became a tradition for people to wear new clothes on Easter Sunday, symbolizing the “new life” that comes with the Resurrection. In some places it was believed that bad luck would come to those who could afford new Easter clothes but refused to buy them.
  • Easter lilies: The tradition of buying Easter lilies during Holy Week for use as decorations in homes and churches came into practice in the 1800s. The white flower is a symbol of purity and new life that heralds the resurrection of Jesus.
  • Holy Water blessings: Some families bring holy water containers to Mass on Easter so they can bring home some Easter water, which is blessed during the Easter Vigil, to bless their homes.2