Easter will be celebrated on April 20th, in 2014; April 5th 2015 and March 27th 2016 sometimes the date of the Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox Easter coincides. Like Christians across the globe Israel’s Christian community celebrates Christ’s resurrection with special services, sermons, processions and prayer. Throughout the country Christians will gather in churches to pray during Easter.
The most popular places to visit during Easter are the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the Old City of Jerusalem; the Garden Tomb and Nazareth where one of the country’s largest Christian communities lives. In the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem Catholics and Protestants take turns conducting Easter ceremonies; the church is shared by 6 Christian denominations which all celebrate Jesus’ resurrection here. This is the site where Jesus is believed to have been crucified, laid to rest and where he was resurrected. Catholics celebrate the Easter mass in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on Easter Sunday (April 20th 2014). Protestants gather in at the Garden Tomb to see the Easter sunrise and attend prayer services.
This is a great time to visit Jerusalem where you will see many monks and religious people in traditional white robes as the smell of incense fills the air and the sound of singing and chanting echoes in the churches. On Palm Sunday (April 13th 2014) a procession begins from the Mount of Olives and continues into the Old City and on to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The people in the procession sing, chant and hold palm fronds.
On Maundy Thursday (April 17th 2014) the Patriarch of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre ceremoniously washes the feet of his priests as Jesus washed the feet of his disciples (John 13:1-15).
Another amazing event in Jerusalem during Easter is on Good Friday (April 18th 2014) when a procession of people follows the Via Dolorosa, the route Jesus took through the Old City towards his crucifixion. Easter processions retrace this route led by leaders of the church. The processions culminate at the Holy Tomb in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
On Easter Saturday (April 19th 2014) at noon the Ceremony of the Holy Fire is held in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The Orthodox Patriarch enters the tomb of Jesus in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and closes the door behind him. The church bells are rung; the lights in the church are turned off; and the priest immerges from the tomb holding a torch. The worshipers gathered in the church holding candles and as the torch brings light into the space the candles are lit creating a magical atmosphere.