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Orthodox Holy Saturday in the United Kingdom

Holy Saturday is the day when Jesus lay in his tomb after his death, according to Christian belief. Many Orthodox Christian churches in the United Kingdom often observe Holy Saturday at a later date than the Holy Saturday date observed by many western churches. Holy Saturday is also known as Holy and Great Saturday.

Orthodox Christians walking around a church on Easter Eve.
Orthodox Christians walking around a church on Easter Eve.
©iStockphoto.com/VichoT

What Do People Do?

Many Orthodox churches in the United Kingdom mark Holy Saturday as the day of watchful expectation. The mourning period wanes and people wait for Easter Sunday, which is the day when Jesus was resurrected. Many Greek Orthodox Christians also believe in the Holy Fire, which they say is a miracle that occurs at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem on Holy Saturday every year. Some people in the United Kingdom attempt to journey to Jerusalem as part of the pilgrimage to experience this phenomenon.

Many Orthodox Christian churches hold special liturgies in the night on Holy Saturday, while others have their liturgies in the morning of Holy Saturday. The priest’s vestments, which are ceremonial gowns worn by clergy, are changed to white at the Prokeimenon (psalm or canticle refrain sung, usually to introduce scripture reading) of the Holy Saturday liturgy in many Orthodox Christian churches. Holy Saturday is part of Holy Week, which is a special fast in honor of Jesus Christ’s Passion. The fast occurs from Palm Sunday to Holy Saturday.

Public Life

The Christian Orthodox date for Holy Saturday is not a bank holiday in the United Kingdom.

Background

Many Orthodox churches retained the Julian calendar after the Gregorian calendar was introduced in Europe in 1582. Therefore they often follow a different Easter date compared with many western churches. Easter holidays, such as Easter Saturday, are “moveable feasts” as these dates change according to calendar calculations.

There are different types of Orthodox churches in the United Kingdom, including the Greek Orthodox Church, the Romanian Orthodox Church, and the Russian Orthodox Church. Congregation numbers have grown in these churches due to immigration. Many Orthodox Christians in the United Kingdom are immigrants or descendents of immigrants from countries such as Greece, Romania and Russia.

It is believed that Greek immigrants started arriving in London during the late 17th century. The United Kingdom experienced a surge of immigrants, especially from Greece and Russia, during the 20th century. They brought with them their customs, traditions, and religious observances.

Symbols

Candles that are lit during Holy Saturday church liturgies symbolize Jesus Christ’s victory over death, as well as the Christian belief in his resurrection. It can also mean spiritual hope and victory.

About Orthodox Holy Saturday in other countries

Read more about Orthodox Holy Saturday.

Orthodox Holy Saturday Observances

WeekdayDateYearNameHoliday TypeWhere It is Observed
SatApr 32010Orthodox Holy SaturdayOrthodox 
SatApr 232011Orthodox Holy SaturdayOrthodox 
SatApr 142012Orthodox Holy SaturdayOrthodox 
SatMay 42013Orthodox Holy SaturdayOrthodox 
SatApr 192014Orthodox Holy SaturdayOrthodox 
SatApr 112015Orthodox Holy SaturdayOrthodox 
SatApr 302016Orthodox Holy SaturdayOrthodox 
SatApr 152017Orthodox Holy SaturdayOrthodox 
SatApr 72018Orthodox Holy SaturdayOrthodox 
SatApr 272019Orthodox Holy SaturdayOrthodox 
SatApr 182020Orthodox Holy SaturdayOrthodox 

Quick Facts

Many Orthodox Christians in the United Kingdom remember Jesus Christ’s burial and his descent into Hades on Holy Saturday.

Orthodox Holy Saturday 2018

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Orthodox Holy Saturday 2019

Saturday, April 27, 2019

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Name in other languages

NameLanguage
Orthodox Holy SaturdayEnglish
Ortodoks påskeaftenNorwegian

List of dates for other years

Related holidays

Other holidays in April 2018 in the United Kingdom

United Nation Holidays on April 7, 2018

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