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Holy Week around the World

18
Apr

Holy Week is a time when Christians around the world celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday and marks Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem before his crucifixion. Palm Sunday is often celebrated with a parade and procession of palm fronds that symbolize those laid at Jesus’ feet.

Maundy Thursday marks the Last Supper that was held the night before the crucifixion. The most somber day of the year for most Christians, Good Friday commemorates the death of Jesus. Holy Week culminates with Holy Saturday, a time of spiritual and even physical preparation for the resurrection of Jesus.

Every year people gather to celebrate Holy Week in anticipation of Easter. Below are 4 traditions from around the world:

The Philippines

Moriones Festival, the Philippines

In the Philippines, Spanish-influenced Catholicism melds with precolonial rituals to influence Holy Week celebrations. Alongside the traditional moriones festival, in which participants dressed as Roman soldiers reenact Jesus’ walk to Calvary, a statue of Santo Entierro (holy internment) is displayed through the streets on a calandra decorated with flowers. Many people try to minimize any noise on Good Friday, turning off radios and TVs to better reflect on the solemnity of the day.

Greece

Throwing of Botides, Corfu

In the Philippines, Spanish-influenced Catholicism melds with precolonial rituals to influence Holy Week celebrations. Alongside the traditional moriones festival, in which participants dressed as Roman soldiers reenact Jesus’ walk to Calvary, a statue of Santo Entierro (holy internment) is displayed through the streets on a calandra decorated with flowers. Many people try to minimize any noise on Good Friday, turning off radios and TVs to better reflect on the solemnity of the day.

Mexico

La Quema de Judas, Mexico

In Mexico, Holy Week (or Semana Santa) is one of the most publicly celebrated holidays on the calendar. So much so that schools and many businesses often close for Holy Week and the following week to celebrate with long-standing traditions such as processions, reenactments of the Passion, and indigenous rituals. One such tradition is la quema de Judas, or the Burning of Judas, on Holy Saturday. Effigies made from wood, paper mâché, or hay are burned or lit ablaze with fireworks. Many see the flames as purifying, cleansing spectators’ souls of evil and corruption. Since the time of the conquistadors, people from all across Mexico and other countries of Latin America have participated in la quema de Judas. Over the years, this has morphed from a religious act to a secular one. Today, this tradition celebrates Mexico’s diverse heritage.

Poland

Easter Basket, Poland

Predominately Catholic Poland observes Easter with a confluence of Christian and pagan traditions. The Polish begin Holy Week on Palm Sunday (Niedziela Palmowa)with homemade palm fronds made from various branches, flowers, and ribbons. The rest of the week includes spring cleaning in preparation for the weekend. On Good Friday, many will visit a symbolic grave adorned with flowers and candles. The following day, families will decorate Easter baskets and fill them with traditional foods such as sausage, bread, hard-boiled eggs, and a small lamb made of sugar, butter, or plastic. Subsequently, the baskets accompany the families to mass, where they will be blessed by a priest and remain untouched until Sunday morning.

For people all over the world, Holy Week is a time of reflection and solemnity. However, it is not a time of complete sadness because Easter brings the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the renewal of faith for Christians everywhere.


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