The Easter Octave

The Easter Octave
The Easter Octave 4

The Easter Octave

The Easter Octave is an eight-day period in the Catholic liturgical calendar that begins with Easter Sunday and continues through the following Sunday, known as Divine Mercy Sunday. During this time, each day is celebrated as a Solemnity, the highest ranking of liturgical feasts, with special readings and prayers. The Octave of Easter is a time of prolonged celebration where Christians treat each day as if it were Easter Sunday, emphasizing the joy of Christ’s resurrection. The Octave ends on the Second Sunday of Easter, also called the Sunday of Divine Mercy, which highlights the theme of God’s mercy and forgiveness. This period is a time for feasting, praising God, and enjoying the company of family and friends, marking the beginning of the Easter season in the Catholic Church

Biblical references

The Gospel readings for each of middle days within the octave are taken from the various Scriptural accounts of the Resurrection of Jesus.


Matthew 28:8-15
King James Version

8 And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.
9 And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.
10 Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.
11 Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done.
12 And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers,
13 Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept.
14 And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you.
15 So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.


John 20:11-18
King James Version

11 But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre,
12 And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
13 And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.
14 And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.
15 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.
16 Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.
17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.
18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.


Luke 24:13-35
King James Version

13 And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.
14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened.
15 And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.
16 But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.
17 And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?
18 And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?
19 And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people:
20 And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him.
21 But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.
22 Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre;
23 And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive.
24 And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not.
25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:
26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?
27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
28 And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further.
29 But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them.
30 And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them.
31 And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.
32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?
33 And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them,
34 Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.
35 And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread.


Luke 24:35-48
King James Version

35 And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread.
36 And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
37 But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.
38 And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?
39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.
40 And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet.
41 And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat?
42 And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb.
43 And he took it, and did eat before them.
44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.
45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,
46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
48 And ye are witnesses of these things.


John 21:1-14
King James Version

21 After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself.
2 There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples.
3 Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.
4 But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.
5 Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No.
6 And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.
7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher’s coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea.
8 And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes.
9 As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread.
10 Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught.
11 Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken.
12 Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord.
13 Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise.
14 This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.


Mark 16:9-15
King James Version

9 Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.
10 And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept.
11 And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not.
12 After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country.
13 And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them.
14 Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.
15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

The Easter Octave
The Easter Octave

Significance of the Easter Octave

The significance of the Easter Octave in Catholicism lies in its celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ over an eight-day period, starting from Easter Sunday and culminating in Divine Mercy Sunday. This period is marked by a series of Solemnities, the highest ranking of liturgical feasts, where each day is treated as a “mini-Easter,” focusing on the joy and significance of Christ’s resurrection. The Octave of Easter allows believers to reflect on the Resurrection story, encounter the risen Lord, and deepen their faith through various Gospel readings and prayers. It is a time of extended celebration, emphasizing the central event of the Christian faith and inviting believers to immerse themselves in the mystery of Christ’s victory over death. Additionally, Divine Mercy Sunday, which concludes the Easter Octave, highlights the theme of God’s mercy and forgiveness, encouraging believers to embrace and live out the message of Divine Mercy in their lives through acts of mercy towards others

The origin of the Easter Octave

The origin of the Easter Octave in Catholicism dates back to at least the 3rd or 4th century when Christians began extending certain feasts beyond the initial day. The Easter Octave, an eight-day period starting from Easter Sunday and continuing through the following Sunday, was established to prolong the joyous celebrations of Easter. Initially associated with the weekly celebration of Christ’s resurrection every “eighth day,” which is Sunday, the practice of liturgical octaves was formalized under the Roman Emperor Constantine in the fourth century. The first liturgical octaves included Easter, Pentecost, and Epiphany in the East. Over time, more octaves were added for Christmas, the dedication of churches, and various saints’ feasts. In modern times, Church calendar reforms have retained only the octaves for Christmas and Easter, with the Easter Octave being celebrated as solemnities of the Lord with special readings and prayers for each day. The Easter Octave is a significant period in Catholicism, emphasizing the importance of Christ’s resurrection and the new life it brings to believers

The Easter Octave
The Easter Octave

Celebration of the Octave of Easter in Different Countries

The celebration of the Octave of Easter varies across different countries, reflecting diverse cultural traditions and customs. In some regions, such as Northern European and Slavic countries, Easter Monday is marked by the tradition of giving small presents and singing traditional songs to express good wishes for health and harvest. Additionally, the custom of “Laughing Monday” involves practical joking to symbolize the devil’s defeat by Christ’s resurrection. Another practice that was revived in 1959 is the tradition of visiting different “station churches” each day of the Octave, with specific churches assigned for each day, fostering a sense of pilgrimage and devotion during the Easter Week. Furthermore, the Via Lucis or Stations of Light, recalling events after the Resurrection, is a popular practice that has spread to many regions, offering believers a way to meditate on the appearances of Jesus post-Resurrection and deepen their faith during the Easter season

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Traditional Easter Octave Customs

Some of them incluse:

Fine Clothes and Festive Walks

Historically, wearing new clothes for Easter Sunday was a common tradition symbolizing the “new life” received through Christ’s resurrection. Families would attend Mass in new attire, reflecting the joy and renewal brought by Easter. Another tradition, the “Easter Walk,” involved families taking festive walks after Mass, showcasing their new clothes and enjoying time together.

Easter Week Customs

Easter Monday and Tuesday were historically holy days of obligation, with various customs associated with them. The Emmaus Walk, observed in European countries, involved picnics, feasting, singing, and games with family and friends. In some regions, visiting grandparents on Easter Monday was a common practice, fostering family connections and celebration.

These traditional customs and practices surrounding the Easter Octave reflect a blend of religious devotion, cultural heritage, and community celebration, enriching the spiritual experience of Easter for believers around the world

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