Easter in Jerusalem is a very special time to be in the Holy Land as the place where the story of the triumphant welcome, betrayal, trial, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The last year has been a time that has been very difficult circumstances for the world, and Jerusalem and Israel have been no exception. Last year the traditional activities were unable to take place, especially in their normal forms.
Easter in Jerusalem in 2020 was one of the most unique easters in the nearly 2000 years of celebration. Normally crowded streets were vacant with no pilgrims and worshipers waving palms on Palm Sunday and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher was vacant for its normal celebrations of Easter and the Holy Fire ceremony which usually has it filled to its brim.
This year Easter in Jerusalem still won’t be its normal pre-covid levels as tourism is still not allowed bringing in its normal crowds but it will be closer to normal than last year.
This is what this years celebrations of Holy Week will look like:
Easter in Jerusalem
Palm Sunday- This year’s Palm Sunday was very special as it marked the reopening of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher as the restrictions of continuous lockdowns in Israel finally eased with the fall of infection rates thanks to an aggressive vaccination rate in the country.
This year, Roman Catholics who reside in Israel did the traditional march from the Mount of Olives to the Old City down what is known as Palm Sunday Road led by the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Pierbattista Pizzaballa.
“The message of Easter is life and love, despite all the signs of death, corona, pandemic, whatever, we believe in the power of love and life,” -Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem
Orthodox Christians will celebrate the same walk next week.
Holy Thursday will mark the traditional “Last Supper” and the washing of the feet of the disciples as well as the betrayal of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. On “Maundy Thursday” Maundy is from the french word for “mandate” because Jesus mandated that his disciples love each other as a new commandment. This was very meaningful during the celebration of Passover which is the celebration of Israel’s freedom from Egypt. During this time, Moses was given the Ten Commandments by God. This was essentially the 11th commandment.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” – John 13:34
John took this commandment so seriously that in his old age, being the only disciple to not be martyred, he used to tell the congregation when asked to give a word from Jesus, “Little Children, Love Each Other”. Maundy Thursday may be recognizing the agony of that Jesus went through, but also remembering He chose this last time to teach to command that we love one another as He loves us, just before He gave his life for us.
These lessons and experiences are celebrated in a special mass at the Church of All Nations, which resides on the Mount of Olives where the Garden of Gethsemane was. The church is a stunning place inside and out and is not to be missed. Nearby there are some of the oldest olive trees in the world and private gardens where you can participate in a quieter introspection and reflection on the events surrounding Jesus’s sacrifice.
A walk from St. Savior’s Church (from the entrance from St. Francis Street) to the Cenacle and the churches of St. James and St. Mark followed by the Washing of the Feet.
Good Friday, the day marking when Jesus died on the cross, the traditional walking of the Via Dolorosa, or the “Stations of the Cross” where events of the crucifixion are thought to have taken place.
The Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre has a celebration of the Passion of the Christ in the morning and a “funeral procession” in the evening of Good Friday.
At the Garden Tomb, where many protestants believe the events actually happened, a special meditation service is held.
On Holy Saturday before Easter in Israel there are still many somber events held to reflect on the death and sacrifice of Jesus. The Holy Sepulcher hosts vigils, processionals, vespers and the Holy Fire Ceremony, a tradition in which orthodox faiths believe a miraculous flame descends from Heaven.
The actual day of Easter in Jerusalem is filled with church services and celebrations. What better thing to celebrate!
While 2021 still is not open for pilgrims to enter Israel for Easter in Jerusalem, we fully anticipate 2022 being a wonderful celebration of pilgrims from around the world! If you would like to be part of this experience, don’t wait to book for 2022 or 2023. Make your reservations today with Immanuel Tours!