To fully appreciate Easter and its significance one needs to go through the beauty of the Triduum. This is a very beautiful and intense period for Christians and is composed of three celebrations.
It starts on Holy Thursday or Maundy Thursday, where a mass is celebrated including the rite of washing the feet of 12 men who are acting as the apostles. This is in commemoration of the Last Supper that Jesus, or the Passover meal, had with his apostles on the night before his crucifixion. During this celebration we also reflect on the institution of the Holy Eucharist.
The day after, is Good Friday, where Christians fast and go through mourning and reflection about Christ's sacrifice. Jesus's passion is celebrated in different ways in different countries. Even though there is no mass on Good Friday, many Christians still go to church so as to pray. There is a celebration held at 3 in the afternoon where the cross is glorified. Passion plays are prepared by many Christian communities, and pilgrimages too. There are also statues depicting the various Stations of the Cross in many churches. Christians also fast on Good Friday and many refrain from eating meat and dairy products.
On Saturday evening there is the Easter Vigil. This is the official celebration of Jesus's resurrection. A special mass is held where the baptismal vows and the fact that Jesus is the light of our life are the focal point along with several readings about the history of Salvation and the Litany of the Saints. Candles are lit to signify that Jesus brings light to our life, and since these cast a warm glow on the otherwise dark church, there is a great sense of joy signified. Instead of or in addition to attending mass on Holy Saturday, there are many Christians who go on Easter Sunday.
The Triduum is thus a journey which reaches its peak on Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday, and if one does not appreciate it in its entirety one cannot say that he is appreciating the real value of Easter.