Sun 1 April 2018 | All Day
Old City - Old City, Jerusalem,
Where better to celebrate Easter than Israel, where it all happened. Jerusalem is at the center of all the celebrations, but there are also beautiful events in Tel Aviv!
What is Easter?
Easter is the most religious and spiritual holiday in the Christian calendar (yes, even more than Christmas!). It commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem, and his resurrection.
The holiday starts in the Judean Desert, where Jesus spent 40 days and nights preparing for his death, as he had prophesied. During this time Jesus fasted, and it is commemorated in modern days with Lent, where observant Christians will give up on luxuries.
It culminates with Holy Week, where Jesus arrived in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to much celebration; his last supper on Holy Thursday with his 12 disciples on Mount Zion, just outside the walls of the Old City in Jerusalem; his final walk down the Via Dolorosa in the Old City and his crucifixion on Good Friday; and his resurrection on Easter Sunday.
Celebrating Holy Week in Jerusalem
Throughout Holy Week there are celebrations across Jerusalem, tracing Jesus’ footsteps.
The Sunday before Jesus’ crucifixion, Jesus arrived at the Mount of Olives on the back of a donkey to much celebration. There is a procession each year from the Mount of Olives to the Old City, via Lions Gate, a walk of about 2km, usually starting around 2pm.
Book tours of the Mount of Olives through the Secret Tel Aviv website. We offer tours through Abraham Tours and iBookIsrael.
Thursday is the last day before Jesus’ crucifixion, and also the day of his Last Supper with his 12 disciples. The dinner has been made famous by Leanardo Da Vinci’s mural painting at the Covenant of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, Italy, but it actually really took place at the Cenacle (Upper Room) on Mount Zion just outside the Old City. Easter coincides with the Jewish holiday of Passover, and it is believed that the last supper was actually a Passover meal. On Holy Thursday there are pilgrimages to the Cenacle.
An alternative site to the Cenacle is St. Mark’s Monastery in the Armenian Quarter of the Old City in Jerusalem.
Book tours to the Cenacle on Mount Zion with Secret Tel Aviv through iBookIsrael. iBookIsrael offer a tour a daily private tour of Mount of Zion and Mount of Olives called ‘A Tale of Two Mountains’.
One of the highlights of the Easter celebration in Jerusalem, trace Jesus’ last footsteps along the Via Dolorosa in the Old City, to his crucifixion in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The procession starts at 12.15pm, and stops at each of the 9 Stations en route, and 5 stations inside the Church. It is a truly moving procession, with thousands of pilgrims filling the Old City’s narrow streets, many carrying crosses.
Book tours of the Via Dolorosa through the Secret Tel Aviv website. We offer tours through Abraham Tours and iBookIsrael.
Holy Saturday is a solemn day as it is the day after Jesus’ crucifixion. For the early-risers, be sure to check out the Easter Vigil that starts at 5am at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, before the sun has risen. This service lasts for 3-4 hours, and beware because security can be tight.
Later in the day at around 1pm, also at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, is the Miracle of the Holy Fire Service – a tradition of the Eastern Orthodox Church that is actually forbidden by the Catholic Church. Each year, at exactly the same time on Holy Saturday, a blue flame miraculously emanates from within Jesus’ tomb. This flame spontaneously and simultaneously lights all other lights and candles around the church. There are huge celebrations along in the streets in the Old City, with many people carrying lit torches. For an excellent account of the service check out the ‘Something Unpredictable’ blog.
Easter Sunday is the holiest day of the Christian Calendar, marking the miracle of the resurrection of Christ. The highlight of the day is Easter Sunday Mass at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which starts at 10am on the Sunday. Where better to celebrate the most important event in Christianity in the most important site in Christianity. Thousands of people attend, spilling out of the church into the plaza and streets around.
Book tours of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre through the Secret Tel Aviv website. We offer tours through Abraham Tours and iBookIsrael.
Looking for a hotel to stay during your trip to Jerusalem? Check out Secret Tel Aviv’s ‘Guide to the Best Hotels in Jerusalem’ – we’ve got great recommendations, whatever your budget!
Celebrating Easter in Tel Aviv
There are events throughout the week at Tel Aviv’s largest Catholic and Protestant Churches, based in Jaffa in the South of the city.
Perched high on Jaffa Old City, St Peter’s Church is a Franciscan church built in 1654. There are services in English, Polish, Spanish, and Hebrew on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday. (address is 1 Mifratz Shlomo Street).
Further south on Yefet Street is St Anthony’s Church, a Catholic church built in 1934. Services are held in English, Arabic, and Philippino throughout East week. (address is 51 Yefet Street).
Immanuel Church in Jaffa is a Lutharian Church built in 1904. They have services and concerts throughout Easter week, check their Facebook Page for more info. (address is Bar Hoffman Street 15).
Want to learn more about holidays in Israel? Check out our Holidays in Israel Guide!
Want to get all kinds of awesome recommendations directly to your inbox? Sign up to our weekly Events Newsletters here
Looking for more ideas?
Are you travelling around Israel? Secret Tel Aviv has lovingly compiled the following hotel guides: Best Hotels in Israel, Best Hotels in Tel Aviv, Best Hotels in Jerusalem, Best Hotels in the Dead Sea, Best Hotels in Eilat, Best Boutique Hotels in Israel, Best Boutique Hotels in Tel Aviv, Best Hostels in Israel, and Best Hostels in Tel Aviv.