HOLY WEEK – LENT also known as Quadragesima or Quaresma is the 40 day period in the Catholic Litugical Year commemorating the Paschal Mystery (the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ).
It is celebrated by many Christian denominations all around the globe and varies from local cultural traditions. The whole Lenten season begins with Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday. The culmination of which is the HOLY WEEK.
Here in the Philippines, the HOLY WEEK starts with PALM SUNDAY which commemorates and celebrates the successful return of Jesus to JERUSALEM and signals the start of her passion and suffering on the cross. This is usually celebrated by Catholics by buying ornately woven palm branches (Palaspas) and reenacting the entry of Jesus to Jerusalem through a procession. The palm branches are then blessed after the mass and brought home and placed on altars.
Holy Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are still part of the Holy Week but they are not celebrated individually.
MAUNDY THURSDAY commemorates the last supper of Jesus Christ and usually this is reenacted with the inclusion of the symbolic washing of the feet during the afternoon mass. The Holy Thursday afternoon mass also signals the start of the VISITA IGLESIA, the seven or fourteen churches visitation, this is done while praying the Stations of the Cross.
Aside from these activities, Filipinos also do the PASYON or the PABASA which is the singing of a narrative of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. Sponsored by different households, people take turns in singing the narrative in a vigil. The Pabasa in some areas starts as early as Holy Wednesday and ends on Black Saturday.
GOOD FRIDAY commemorates the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. Catholics all around the globe treat this day as a day of fasting. This day is characterized with a host of different traditions. Street processions and the grand Way of the Cross (Via Cruxis) in the morning. The streets are also filled with people doing penance (penetensya). In the afternoon and before 3pm, Catholic Churches reenacts the 7 Last Words of Jesus Christ on the Cross and ends with the symbolic kissing of the cross of Jesus followed by a procession in the late afternoon. In the evening, a passion play (senakulo) and other similar traditional programs are held at various streets and stages.
BLACK SATURDAY is characterized by Church vigils and solemn prayers. This is also a time for Churches to prepare for the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus through a High Mass in the evening.
Easter Dawn is celebrated with the reenactment of the meeting of Jesus and Mary in a tradition called the ‘SALUBONG.’ Two processions are conducted usually, one bearing the image of the risen Christ and the other of Mary. The traditional meeting is then followed by joyous Easter Masses.
OTHER HOLY WEEK TRADITIONS
Lent in the Philippines is also a time for many people to go on vacation. Catholics and non-Catholics often go to provinces and even summer beach destinations to spend time with families and friends. This is why Holy Monday and Tuesday is often characterized by a heavy volume of vehicles on highways causing major traffic jams, over-flowing beaches and fully-booked hotels.
Major business establishments are usually closed during Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Black Saturday. Local TV stations have Lenten special presentations replacing regular programming. Business and TV program returns to normal on Easter Sunday. EASTER SUNDAY just like Christmas is also a great time for malls and usually they have lots of activities particularly for the kids.
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