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What Is Holy Week? Why Do People Celebrate? When Is Holy Week 2017?

It's an important time for Christians.

10/04/2017 16:41 BST | Updated 10/04/2017 20:03 BST

Holy Week is the week leading up to Easter Sunday.

At Easter time, Christians commemorate Jesus’ execution and resurrection.

Holy Week practices vary from person to person and church to church, but many people fast and pray in the run-up to Easter.

ALSO: Our Easter Quiz Will Scramble Your Brain

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People attend a traditional Palm Sunday celebration on the first day of Holy Week

When is Holy Week 2017?

Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday, which commemorates Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.

The day is named so because of the tradition of using palm branches in acting out Jesus’ entrance into the city, when the gospels say the welcoming crowds threw branches at his feet.

The palm branches used in church now are then burned and the ashes used on Ash Wednesday the following year.

This year Holy Week begins on 9 April.

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What celebrations are there in Holy Week after Palm Sunday?

Maunday Thursday - This commemorates the Last Supper Jesus had with his disciples. This coincided with the Jewish festival of Passover. Churches mark this day in various ways, including communal meals, foot washing ceremonies and bell ringing.

Good Friday - This commemorates the day of Jesus’ crucifixion and consequent death. This is the most solemn and perhaps most important day of Holy Week, with some churches observing forms of mourning practices.

Holy Saturday - This day is used to remember Jesus’ burial. This is a day for solemn reflection. Sometimes an Easter vigil may be held on Holy Saturday, while some may fast.

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A passion play is performed on Good Friday

What about Easter Sunday?

This is not technically counted in Holy Week, the last day of which is the Saturday.

Easter Sunday will be celebrated on April 16 this year.