Religious Easter Traditions to Help You Celebrate
Are you ready to celebrate the greatest event in all of history? The resurrection of Jesus Christ. Though Easter celebrations around the world have become more commercialized and full of candy and bunnies, Resurrection Sunday is extremely important in Christian churches. It is a day commemorating Jesus’ resurrection after His crucifixion and death. Jesus having victory over sin and the grave has great implications for us. That’s probably why churches have many religious Easter traditions. They want to celebrate who Jesus is and what He has done. And they want to share that good news with other people.
In fact, Easter traditions don’t only happen on Easter Sunday. From Lent to the various days of Holy Week, many Christian churches and cultures have special liturgies or services to celebrate and honor. Some even include special activities, floats, or live reenactments of Jesus’ life and death.
Below are a handful of religious Easter traditions that various churches may take part in.
For those not in religious circles or orthodox Christianity or Catholicism, Lent may be an odd word reminiscent of the fuzzy particles left in the dryer. But no, it’s not lint. Lent is celebrated in the 40 days leading up to Easter Sunday. It is a time of reflection, penance, and for some, a time of fasting. During Lent, some Christians may choose to abstain from food, or other pleasures like caffeine, alcohol, TV, or social media.
Many Catholics and some Protestants follow the Lent calendar and traditions to grow closer to God. The 40 days of Lent reflect the importance of 40-day events in the Bible, like Moses on the mountain (Exodus 24:18), Elijah’s travel to meet with God (1 Kings 19:8), and Jesus’ 40 days of temptation in the wilderness (Matthew 4:2).
Holy Week/Passion Week
There are many traditions that are followed throughout Holy Week—the final days leading to Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. It begins on Palm Sunday and concludes seven days later on Easter Sunday.
Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem is celebrated as Palm Sunday. It is named as such because of the way people welcomed Him by waving palm branches and placing them on the road. They cried out, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” (John 12:12-19). Many churches celebrate with a procession and/or they hand out palm branches during the church service as a way to remember Jesus’ final arrival in Jerusalem to be honored as King. Many churches will review biblical passages as they reflect on the events of Palm Sunday.
Also known as Holy Thursday, this is traditionally considered the day Jesus ate the Passover meal with His disciples. It is the evening of the Last Supper, where Jesus instituted Communion and instructed His followers to remember His sacrifice by taking the bread and the cup. It is also the evening He washed His disciples’ feet, a humble act of service, demonstrating how we should love and treat one another. As a religious Easter tradition today, many churches hold a service where they receive Communion and have a foot-washing ceremony on Maundy Thursday.
Following the betrayal of Judas, Good Friday is the day that Jesus was put on trial, crucified, and killed on the cross. It may be challenging to think of this day as “good,” but without Christ’s death, He wouldn’t have been raised back to life. Another reason why it’s called “good” is that the term refers to a day that is observed as holy by the church.
The Friday before Easter, Christians solemnly honor Jesus’ suffering and death for their sins. Many churches observe the day with a service. They’ll remember Christ’s crucifixion and discuss the significance of His death on the cross. The service may include hymns, thanksgiving prayers, or a production recounting Jesus’ painful death. Some churches or denominations fast on Good Friday.
Holy Saturday/Easter Eve
Saturday was the observed Sabbath, so the Jewish people in Jesus’ time were probably resting and mourning His death. Jesus’ physical body lay in the tomb. His followers were saddened and probably wondering how all this could be.
Some churches have the Easter tradition of starting the Sunday celebrations at midnight on Easter Eve. They light candles to remember that Jesus is the light of the world. When He rose to life on the third day, He conquered death and the darkness of evil.
Easter Sunday marks the glorious day Jesus was resurrected. He appeared to several witnesses (Luke 24:1-49). It’s a celebration that Jesus was raised back to life, and it’s a culmination of Holy Week.
Early in the morning, several women went to the tomb, only to discover that the stone was rolled away and Jesus’ body was no longer there. An angel exclaimed, "Don't be afraid! I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn't here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen." (Matthew 28:5-6, NLT)
Christians celebrate this momentous occasion with special Easter church services. Many of them go to Sunrise services which are held early in the morning. They do this because of when the women found the empty tomb, signifying that Christ is risen! Some churches have a special Easter luncheon after the service. Some hold Easter egg hunts for the kids. There are many ways to celebrate Resurrection Sunday!
Resource: 3 Ways to Market Your Church for Easter
Let Clover Help You Celebrate!
Religious Easter traditions are a great way to honor our risen Savior. Clover’s got you covered when it comes to your church website. For help building a website that’s true to foundational roots, talk to us today! Our office hours are Monday-Friday from 9 am to 6 pm. Reach us at (805) 527-8900. We even have a Traditional Website Theme to represent your ministry. You can try it for free, too.