Holy Saturday commemorates the day that Jesus Christ lay in the tomb after his death, the day after Good Friday and the day before Easter Sunday.
Holy Saturday is also know as Holy and Great Saturday, the Great Sabbath, Black Saturday, Joyous Saturday, Hallelujah Saturday, Glorious Saturday, Easter Eve, Vigil of Easter, the Saturday of Light, the day before Easter and the last day of Holy Week in preparation for Easter. It commemorates the day that Jesus’ body lay in the tomb and the Harrowing of Hell.
This is the day Jesus performed in spirit the Harrowing of Hell and raised up to Paradise, having liberated those who had been held captive. In some Churches, this day is known as Joyous Saturday, otherwise known as the night of light and joy. Holy Saturday lasts until nightfall, after which the Easter Vigil is celebrated, marking the official start of the Easter season. The service usually start with a fire and the lighting of the new Paschal candle in many churches.
The day is traditionally a time of reflection and waiting. The vigil stems back to when Jesus’ followers spent this day waiting after his crucifixion on Good Friday. It is also known as the day when the Roman governor Pontius Pilate instructed guards to be posted at the tomb to prevent Jesus’ followers from removing the body to claim that he had risen from the dead.
It was the only Saturday on which fasting was permitted in the early days of the Christian church. According to some sources, fasting occurred during the entire day or lasted for 40 hours before the Easter Sunday sunrise during the first century CE. This day was a major day for baptisms in the early church. Many churches still hold large services for baptisms on Holy Saturday.