One thing that makes Holy Week different from other moments in the Christian calendar is that the dates change from year to year. After all, if can all agree on a day for when he was born, even though it was probably spring, why can’t they get the day he was crucified on right? Well, believe it or not, it has to do with the phases of the moon. Holy Week always falls on the week of the first full moon after the vernal equinox, or first day of spring, i.e. March 21st (though it is more often the 20th). Established back in 325AD this tradition goes back even further to the Jewish holiday of Passover.
Holy Week began last Sunday, known as Palm Sunday, which was a big moment in my church-going days as a child because we were all given a strip of palm leaf. This was certainly good training to help me appreciate the smaller things in life. Palm Sunday was also marred by the fact the Passion was read in church, which meant tacking on another twenty minutes to a service I already considered excessive in length and subject matter. The passion was a review of the final days of Christ, told as a story, and the highlight came when we as a congregation would be allowed to actively participate. The priest gave us the dubious honor of playing the crowd which had to choose between Barabbas and Jesus, so when Pilate would ask us what to do with Christ, we would all cry out in unison: “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
Now isn’t that a nice thing to do in church? Oh, well, Palm Sunday kicks off the week, but things don’t really get going until Wednesday, as…as…death nears.