Easter is a pivotal moment within the Christian liturgical calendar. It marks the end of Lent, a period of 40 days of penance, fasting and contemplation. On Easter, Christians commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, an event they believe precipitates God’s victory over death and sin.
Since medieval times, Christians have prepared for Easter by participating in passion plays, dramatic retellings of the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The plays often take viewers through the events of Holy Week.
On Palm Sunday, Christians believe Jesus was joyously welcomed into Jerusalem. Days later, on Holy Thursday, also called Maundy Thursday, the scriptures say he celebrated his last meal with his disciples and instituted the practice of the Eucharist, or Holy Communion. Good Friday marks the day Jesus was crucified and three days later, on Easter Sunday, Christians believe he was resurrected.
Some Jewish organizations have criticized passion plays for perpetuating the false notion that Jewish people were responsible for the crucifixion. Since 1965, the Roman Catholic Church and other Christian denominations have taken steps to correct these problematic, anti-Semitic interpretations of the events of Holy Week.
This year, Easter falls on April 1 and Christians have already started performing in public passion plays to help retell the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Scroll down to see passion play productions in eight cities around the world ― from London to Bangalore.