Holy Wednesday is observed on different dates every year, but this year, it falls on April 5 in the United States. According to Christians, Holy Week begins with the first day known as Palm Sunday and ends with Holy Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday, which is celebrated by many to proclaim the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Holy Week is a week when most Christians value and cherish their faith and religion because their god suffered, died, and was resurrected. In the Greek and Roman literature books, this time is said to be called the “Great Week” because God did many great deeds during this time.
History of Holy Wednesday
Holy Week happens on the final week of Lent, and the beginning of this is Ash Wednesday. Lent is the period in which Christians reflect and repent because Jesus sacrificed and starved with no food for 40 days in the desert. During this Great Week, Christians remember and perpetuate the Passion of Christ, who died on Good Friday to save humankind. The theme usually for this week is sorrowful, where people contemplate all the actions Jesus did to save everyone. Holy Week finally starts with Palm Sunday and ends on Holy Saturday, consisting of seven days, before Easter Sunday. During this week, Christians do many different practices and have varying traditions and ceremonies to reflect on Jesus until he is resurrected on Easter Sunday when they finally rejoice and celebrate the miracle and the savior himself.
St. Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, and St. Epiphanius of Constantia used the term “Holy Week” in the fourth century. Initially, only Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Black Saturday were recognized as holy days. The Pre-Nicene church always concentrated on Passover as the main event. By the end of the fourth century, Holy Week began to be categorized by days and events in the life of Jesus.
Another name for Holy Wednesday is Spy Wednesday, mainly because this was the specific day Judas, the disciple of Jesus Christ, chose to betray the Lord for 30 pieces of silver. In the Christian Bible, Matthew Chapter 26, Verses 14 to 16 says “then went one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, to the chief priests, and said to them: What will you give me, and I will deliver him unto you? But they appointed him thirty pieces of silver. And from thenceforth he sought an opportunity to betray him.” It then shows that Judas acted as a spy as he betrayed Jesus secretly and with intention and motive.
Holy Wednesday timeline
Judas Iscariot betrays Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.
Jesus washes his disciples’ feet at the last supper.
Jesus is crucified and dies on the cross.
Jesus is buried in the tomb.
Jesus rises on the third day after being crucified.
Holy Wednesday FAQs
What day did Jesus die?
Scholars and historians have estimated Jesus’ death to be on April 3, 33 A.D.
Do you fast on Holy Wednesday?
For some Christians, Holy Wednesday is considered a “black fast day” when you eat a small amount of food.
Why is Holy Wednesday celebrated?
The story of Judas plotting his betrayal against Jesus with the chief priests is recalled on this day. The day also reminds everyone that he is a spy among the disciples of Jesus, which is why it’s sometimes called “Spy Wednesday.”
How to Observe Holy Wednesday
Visit the church
Most Christians are encouraged to go to Jerusalem, the place where Jesus lived and grew up. As this is not possible for all, you can choose to be more solemn and reflect by visiting a church of your liking to pray and observe any ceremonies.
To be solemn and contemplative, people say a way to help with this is to not eat for a certain period or to abstain from “rich” and “good” foods like meat. Fasting is also a way to sacrifice for the great sacrifice that God made for mankind.
Read the Scripture
Read the Bible to be reminded of what really happened to Jesus during that time. Even when we know what usually happens on specific days, reading stories about it will make it feel more real and make us realize its gravity.
5 Facts About Holy Wednesday You Never Knew
It’s a time to receive a sacrament
In Greece, church members receive the sacrament of “Holy Unction” or anointing of the sick.
It has many names
In the Czech Republic, the day can be referred to as “Ugly Wednesday” or “Soot-Sweeping Wednesday.”
It is referred to as darkness
For Malta, this day is known as Wednesday of Shadows, referring to the liturgical darkness.
Jesus was anointed on this day
Mary of Bethany, a sinful woman, anoints Jesus with oil.
There are different customs
For Anglicans, the Tenebrae service is observed on this day.
Why Holy Wednesday is Important
It has a long history
It has been over 2,000 years since Christians believed this to have happened to the Lord, Jesus Christ. It’s incredible that until today, people chose to ponder, commemorate, reflect, and practice the events of that specific week.
We gain knowledge
Even if you are not a Christian who believes or even knows about Holy Wednesday, it is a way to appreciate another faith. Finding out and understanding another person’s intricate beliefs is something so meaningful and humane.
We get to refresh our memory
No wonder this specific week is so special to Christians; we get to do it every year. We remember, reflect, and rekindle our minds and hearts to the astonishing fact that God truly loves us and that he would be willing to give his life for us.
Holy Wednesday dates