Easter is a wonderful time to visit Israel. The weather is very pleasant with cool mornings and warm days. The color green is prominent everywhere, flowers bloom even in the Negev desert; and the Dan, Banias and Jordan streams are full with water from thawing snows in Mount Hermon. This is also a captivating time for religion. Often, the Jewish holiday of Passover is celebrated concurrently with the Christian week of Passion. With all these, Jerusalem becomes a major, significant center of spirituality and faith.
During the week of Easter, the city overflows with pilgrims from all over the world who reenacts Christian history along Via Dolorosa. Groups of hundreds and even thousands of people march and sing, carrying banners and crosses, filling the alleyways of the Old City.
For Christians, there is no better place than Jerusalem to spend Easter. The place of the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ is an important historical center and thousands of Christians travel here annually to follow his way. Below are some of the events taking place during the Holy Week in Jerusalem:
On Palm Sunday, a week before Easter itself, a procession is scheduled for 2:30 pm from Bethfage Church on the Mount of Olives. It passes through the Church of All Nations along the Kidron Valley and through the Lions Gate to Via Dolorosa, and ends at the Church of Saint Anne.
Good Friday is full of activities: At 11:30, the Via Dolorosa procession leaves the first station, where Jesus was crucified. Thousands of pilgrims follow Franciscan monks along this walk of the cross with a stop at each of the cross stations along the way, the last one being the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. There are also Good Friday sermons in the Garden Tomb, which begins at 9:00 am.
Sabbath of Light celebrates the Holy Fire ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Those who attend the ceremony are rewarded by being present in the miraculous lighting of the candles, without the means of ignition, by a senior priest. After lighting the candles, the fire is passed on to the pilgrims and later to the churches in Israel and around the world.
On Easter Sunday morning, a mass is held at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher at 10:30. In addition, there is a sermon at dawn, at 6:30 am, in the Garden of the Holy Sepulcher, which unites worshipers from all over the world. This is one of the most powerful spiritual experiences that take place in Jerusalem. The sermon is given in English and includes singing, a ceremony for communion and for resurrection. Another sermon in English starts at 9:30.
There are many more sermons of every type every day of the Holy Week in the various cathedrals and basilicas in Jerusalem.