During Holy Week the Church lives the entire passion of Christ. We do, within the confines of the church building, what the early Christians did in Jerusalem every year during this week. The early Christians used to celebrate Holy Week by visiting and praying at each site where the events had originally taken place.
The early Church had understood the great importance of Holy Week and took several steps to devote this week to the Lord. The level of asceticism (fasting, prayer, metanias, vigil) was at its maximum. They only ate bread and salt, abstaining from any cooked food or dessert. They considered it inappropriate to taste anything sweet while commemorating the suffering of the Lord and also tried to avoid the distractions of cooking. Most Christians also abstained from food from Good Friday until Easter service, spending the whole week in the church.
Emperor Theodosuis, a Christian king, ordered a universal holiday during this time so that all those working within the government or private business sector could assemble in prayer and devotion as one family. Prisoners were even set free to go to Church and join in the ceremonial prayers.
Our blessed Church has set the schedule of prayers and readings to correspond with the journey, the teaching, and the events that lead up to the crucifixion. The hymns, sermons and meditations are so expositive that the catechumens used to learn the entire story of Christ during this one week.