Holy Saturday (Sabbatum Sanctum), the Saturday of Holy Week, also known as Holy and Great Saturday, the Great Sabbath, Black Saturday, Joyous Saturday, or Easter Eve, and called “Joyous Saturday” or “the Saturday of Light” among Coptic Christians, is the day after Good Friday. It is the day before Easter and the last day of Holy Week in which Christians prepare for Easter. It commemorates the day that Jesus’ body lay in the tomb and the Harrowing of Hell.
In Eastern Orthodoxy this day, known as Holy and Great Saturday, is also called The Great Sabbath since it is on this day that Christ “rested” physically in the tomb. But it is also believed that it was on this day he performed in spirit the Harrowing of Hell and raised up to Paradise, having liberated those who had been held captive. In the Coptic, Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Churches, this day is known as Joyous Saturday, otherwise known as the night of light and joy.
In Western traditions, the day is usually called Holy Saturday, although in the Anglican Communion, the Book of Common Prayer refers to the day as Easter Even. Although the term Easter Saturdayis usually applied to the Saturday in Easter week, in English-speaking countries it is sometimes applied to Holy Saturday, including in legislation in the Australian states of New South Wales and Queensland, and by Australian government agencies. In the Catholic tradition, the Blessed Virgin Mary as Our Lady of Sorrows is on this day assigned the title Our Lady of Solitude, referring to her solace and grief at the death of her son Jesus. However, nowhere in Catholic liturgical documents is this day referred to as the feast of Our Lady of Solitude.
Religious and cultural practices
Today Thou dost keep holy the seventh day,
Which Thou has blessed of old by resting from Thy works.
Thou bringest all things into being and Thou makest all things new,
Observing the Sabbath rest, my Saviour, and restoring strength.
Near the end of matins, at the end of the Great Doxology, the Epitaphios is taken up and carried in procession around the outside of the church, while the Trisagion is sung, as is done when carrying the body to the cemetery in an Orthodox burial.
Prior to the composition of the current Paschal Vigil of St. John of Damascus, this day’s vesperal liturgy was the main Easter celebration.
Many of the churches of the Anglican Communion as well as Lutheran, Methodist, and some other Churches observe most of the same customs of the Catholic Church; however, their altars may be covered in black instead of being stripped. In some Anglican churches, including the Episcopal Church in the United States, provision is made for a simple Liturgy of the Word on this day, with readings commemorating the burial of Christ. Daily Offices are still observed. In the Moravian churches in North America, the day is known as Great Sabbath. The Anglican Book of Common Prayer uses Easter Even to designate the day.
In the predominantly Roman Catholic Philippines, the day is legally and colloquially known in English as Black Saturday, given the colour’s role in mourning. Traditional taboos from the previous day are carried over and are sometimes broken; swimming is allowed in the afternoon. Most commercial establishments resume operations, with smaller enterprises remaining closed until Easter. Television and radio stations broadcast on shorter hours with special programming or remain off-air. After the liturgical changes of the Second Vatican Council, the term Sábado de Gloria (Spanish for Gloria Saturday) became widely used, referring to the return of chanting the Gloria in Excelsis Deo during the Easter Vigil. In predominantly Roman Catholic Poland, Święconka (Polish pronunciation: [ɕvʲɛnˈtsɔnka]), meaning “the blessing of the Easter baskets”, on Holy Saturday, is one of the most enduring and beloved traditions.
- “Public Report on Audience Complaints and Comments, April–June 2006”(PDF). Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 4 May 2013.
- Michael Keene (1995). The Christian Experience. Nelson Thornes. p. 112. ISBN978-0-7487-2188-7.
- “Public Report on Audience Complaints and Comments, April–June 2006”(PDF). Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 25 April 2011.
- “Confusing Easter Dates”. The Liturgical Commission of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane. Archived from the original on 19 January 2012.
- Public Holidays Act 2010 (NSW) s 4, Industrial Relations Act 2016 (Qld) Schedule 5, definition “public holiday”.
- Australian Government, Public holidays
- Kallistos (Ware), Bishop; Mary, Mother (1977). The Lenten Triodion. South Canaan PA: St. Tikhon’s Seminary Press (published 2002). p. 63. ISBN1-878997-51-3. OCLC189871515.
- Matins Canon of Holy and Great Saturday, Ode 4
- Parry, Ken; Melling, David J.; Brady, Dimitri; Griffith, Sidney H.; Healey, John F. (1999). The Blackwell Dictionary of Eastern Christianity. Oxford: Blackwell. pp. 390–391. ISBN0-631-23203-6.
- Parry et al. (1999), p. 390
- Roman Missal, 3rd Edition.
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