This week, Christians all over the world recall the events leading up to Jesus’ death and resurrection. All of Christianity is in week long observance of the religious traditions that hold special significance to the Christian faith. The Holy Week holds special significance to Filipinos since the country is predominantly Catholic. In fact 85% of the population is Roman Catholic. Very few countries in the world are home to a Cathlic population this large.
Filipinos are devout people, and there’s no religious tradition as faithfully venerated as the Holy Week. The Holy Week is the celebration of Roman Catholic traditions that start with Ash Wednesday and ends 40 days after with Easter Sunday commemorating Jesus Christ’s resurrection from death. It is a time for reflection, repentance, and celebration of faith. What makes it a distinctive tradition to Filipinos is the cultural flavour injected into the religious celebrations.
Here are a few notable traditions during the Holy Week:
- Palm Sunday Mass is celebrated at the beginning of Holy Week. Woven and decorated palm fronds (locally called “Palaspas” are brought to church for the priests to bless, recreating Jesus’ humble entry into Jerusalem to observe Passover.
- On Maundy Thursday, the priest and members of the church community reenact Jesus’ institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper, starting with Washing of the Feet and ending with the Eucharist, which is the central element of Christian worship.
- Good Friday is when the faithful commemorate Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross with the Stations of the Cross. The Stations of the Cross are a devotional act where stations are set up around churches and devotees stop at each station to commemorate a scene that depicts an important segment in Christ’s crucifixion.
- During the week-long observance, churches also hold Reading of the Passion, Hourly Vigils, and a re-enactment of the life and death of Christ called “Senakulo” in Filipino. Fasting and abstinence is also observed, starting on the first day of Lent which is Ash Wednesday.
- The culminating activity called “Salubong” or welcoming is observed very early morning on Easter Sunday. The “Salubong” is a re-enactment of Mary coming to see Jesus after his resurrection. This signals the start of Easter Sunday celebrations.
We hope you join us in celebrating this very important time in the Christian faith. Our VAs will be taking the time to reflect during this time. A few days off to renew their Christian vows would be much appreciated. Have a blessed Holy Week!