Easter Traditions of the Catholic Church

It’s hard to believe, but it’s finally April! I was down the shore this past weekend, and all the flowers were lining the streets and outside of shops. The air was so fragrant that all you could think about is how nice Easter is going to be this year. Easter flowers are just one tradition in the church – there are so many others that are celebrated. Here are just a few Easter traditions of the Catholic Church.

Veiled Images

Starting Palm Sunday many churches use purple cloth to cover religious artwork within the church. All but the Stations of the Cross and stained glass windows are covered. Some parishes even remove all images and works of art all together from the church. This lasts until Easter masses when they are uncovered, except for the crucifixes which are uncovered on Good Friday.

Washing of Feet

Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world in the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end. The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot to hand him over. So during supper, fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God, he rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. The he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with a towel around his waist. He came to Simon Peter who said to him, “Master, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later.” John 13 1-7.

This tradition of the washing of the feet takes place every Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday). Since 1955 usually twelve people are asked prior to mass to have their feet washed. They sit in a specified area and the priest and ministers come around and pour water on their feet and then dry them.

Stations of the Cross

Stations of the Cross is a Good Friday custom that the church is very active with. It depicts fourteen different pictures or scenes from the gospel. It starts with Pilate condemns Jesus to die, and ends with Jesus being placed in the tomb. Often churches present a live version of the Stations with youth groups acting out the scenes.

Check out our blog next week to see some of these events at some of our parishes! You can also locate what is going on at your church through its weekly bulletin! It’s the busy season for the Catholic church, and there is something happening during Holy Week at a church near you!   

Mardi Gras: The Food before Fasting

It’s the Tuesday before Lent which means it is Mardi Gras! Mardi Gras translates to Fat Tuesday. It’s the day we use up all of the fatty, sugary foods prior to the first day of Lent. For the next 40 days, we try our best to stay away from rich foods and to fast whenever possible. Different regions of the world have different ways to use up all of their fattening foods. Parish Giving wanted to share some of theirs!

Fastnacht

This is Jill’s way to celebrate Fat Tuesday! It’s a Pennsylvania Dutch tradition which is a German word that means “Fasting Night”. What you are supposed to do is eat as much rich and delicious foods as you possibly can before the Lenten fast. Today we have Fastnacht donuts in which we enjoy. There are three different kinds:

    -Fastnachts made with baking powder

    -Fastnachts with yeast

    -Fastnachts with potato and yeast

No matter how you make these delicious donuts, they all contain butter or lard, flour, powder sugar and are deep fried. Some contain jelly or cream in the middle. Either way, they are delicious and melt in your mouth! You can see why Jill enjoys this tradition every year!

King Cakes

The traditional King Cake is usually eaten during Epiphany, but now is also seen during Mardi Gras! For Fat Tuesday, the cake is typically made of brioche colored with traditional Mardi Gras colors such as green, yellow and purple. The colors are seen in the cake and in the icing.

What makes King Cakes special is the figurine that is baked inside of it. The porcelain figurine represents Jesus, and the person who has him in their slice is responsible for next year’s cake! The lucky few who have the Jesus figurine can also be seen as the King or Queen of the party! I think I like that tradition better!

Shrove Tuesday

This is how I celebrate Fat Tuesday! For dinner, my family always celebrates with a big stack of pancakes, butter and plenty of maple syrup! We usually have bacon or sausage with it too!

Shrove Tuesday is derived from Shrovetide, which is a biblical term for the last day of the liturgical season. The eating of pancakes on this day has dated back to the 16th Century for British Christians. Many churches still ring the Shriving Bell (Church bells) to sound when people should begin frying their pancakes.

We’d love to hear how you and your family celebrate Mardi Gras each year! Fat Tuesday has so many different traditions all around the world!