In the Christian church, Holy Saturday is the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. In some Christian traditions, this day may be known by other names, including Black Saturday, Easter Eve, or the Holy and Great Saturday. Traditions for Holy Saturday vary from church to church, but often reflect the somber nature of this day during which Christ lay in his tomb. In many churches, the day is characterized with fasting and strict religious observance, and access to the sacraments may be severely restricted.
During Lent, the period of the Christian calendar that commemorates the time leading up to the passion and death of Christ, many Christian churches impose restrictions on their members so as to encourage a mindfulness of Christ's sacrifice. In some churches, weddings are not celebrated during this time and church members may be encouraged to practice a limited fast, such as refraining from eating certain foods, or may give up other pleasures during this time. Lent ends with Holy Week, which begins with Palm Sunday, during which Jesus's entry into Jerusalem is remembered. On Good Friday, Christians remember the death of Christ on the cross, leaving Holy Saturday as a day of anticipation of Christ's resurrection.
The churches that use altar coverings in colors that correspond to the liturgical year may remove these coverings entirely after the Holy Thursday service, leaving the altar bare over Holy Saturday. In some churches, however, the altar may be covered in black cloths until Easter Sunday. The Eucharist is generally not celebrated over Holy Saturday or Good Friday; however, there are situations in which the Eucharist and other sacraments may be performed in serious cases, such as if a person is dying and wants to receive communion. Churches will still hold services, however, with many celebrating an extended Easter vigil as all wait together to celebrate the resurrection on Easter Sunday.
Some Eastern European cultures inject a more festive note in Holy Saturday celebrations with the custom of the blessing of the baskets. In many liturgical churches, the period of Lent is marked by significant dietary restrictions. In the Eastern Orthodox churches, for example, church members are generally asked to refrain from eating meat, eggs, and dairy products. With Easter Sunday, these foods can once again be consumed and are often featured at a celebratory meal on Easter Sunday. Families will gather the staples of an Easter meal into a basket and bring them to church for the priest to bless.