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How Filipinos Celebrate Holy Week in the Philippines

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Lent is a season that allows Filipinos to reflect and even do sacrifices in honoring the passion of Christ from His death to resurrection. The lent starts during Ash Wednesday, forty days before Easter Sunday.

It will then be followed by the Holy Week or Semana Santa that is celebrated from the start of Palm Sunday and ends on Easter Sunday or the day of resurrection. During the week, establishments are often closed as a way of spending the week solemnly. Most of the time, people are inside the churches or even inside the comfort of their homes reflecting and praying.

The rites performed during Palm Sunday were adapted from the Spanish tradition of bringing palm fronds or "palaspas" to be blessed by priests with holy water as a way of honoring Jesus Christ's entry in Jerusalem.

Catholics were also used to fasting and not eating any meat but rather fishes or any liquid diet. On Sunday, the passion of Christ will be read or even acted upon by church lay ministers or servers. It will then end on Maundy Thursday or the day of washing of the feet to commemorate Christ's humility towards His disciples.

During Good Friday, the crucifixion and death of Christ will be commemorated. The way of doing this is to carry religious figures of Jesus through a carriage or coffin. The statues are also covered in black cloth to symbolize the mourning of Jesus' death.

On Black Saturday, Filipinos will prepare for a long sleepless night or vigil that will then welcome the celebration of Easter Sunday.

The highlight of the Holy Week tradition is when Filipinos will whip themselves in public to reenact Jesus' suffering and death. Some would even dare to nail their hands and feet on the cross!

Easter Sunday is considered a day of victory. During this day, people will celebrate Christ's resurrection and defeat against death. Filipinos do a traditional "salubong" wherein the statue of Mother Mary will be brought towards the statue of Jesus Christ to meet during the dawn. After this, people will then proceed to the church for the holy mass.

Unfortunately, times have truly changed and some of these traditions are often disregarded.

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