Lent is a very special celebration of the Christian community. Here in Cebu, people join in spreading the story of Jesus Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection. It starts off with Ash Wednesday, and Holy Week is part of the Lenten celebration of the liturgical calendar of many Christians which kicks off on Palm Sunday.
Traditional practices that you can witness during Lenten Season and Holy Week
Here are traditional rites devotees practice during the Lenten season:
“Pabadlis” on Ash Wednesday
Catholics commemorate Ash Wednesday by attending a Holy Mass (this year, Ash Wednesday was on the 18th of February) where the presiding priest marks (“badlis“) the people with ashes on their forehead to signify the passage from the Book of Genesis (3:19) “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
Considered the day of fasting, it [Ash Wednesday] is 46 days (40 days, excluding 6 Sundays since Sunday is not a day of fasting) before Easter. Modern Christians practice fasting by giving up worldly things, bodily pleasure, and consumption of meat.
“Bendita sa Lukay” on Palm Sunday
Palm Sunday was celebrated Sunday before Holy Week, where Christians attend a mass have their palm branches or palaspas, blessed by the priest. After getting blessed, Filipinos collect them and put them on the altar or hang them on the wall to drive away evil spirits, bad luck, prevent fire and lightning.
The Palm Sunday event was inspired by the triumphant entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem where people greeted him waving their palm branches and place them on the ground where Jesus passed by.
“Hugas sa Tiil” on Maundy Thursday
This day commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with His apostles. Maundy (from the Latin word, Mandatum, which means commandments) derived from the statement of Christ in the Gospel of John (13:34) “Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos” (“A new commandment I give unto you, That you love one another; as I have loved you”).
A “Mandatum” ceremony of the washing of the feet will be held during Mass, during which a priest or bishop (representing Christ) ceremonially washes the feet of others, typically 12 persons chosen as a cross-section of the community.
The Visitation of Seven Churches or “Visita Iglesia” is also done on Maundy Thursday, a humble Christian ritual on Holy Week to visit different churches around the city or province.
“Halok sa Krus” on Good Friday
A religious holiday recalling the crucifixion of Christ and his burial at Mount Calvary, Good Friday, has no scheduled Eucharistic masses. Instead, people visit the church to kiss at the foot of the crucified Christ. It is also common that statues of saints were covered in purple veils that symbolize the death of Jesus Christ.
The Catholic Church treats Good Friday as a fasting day, which is understood as having only one full meal (but smaller than a regular meal) and two collations (a smaller repast, two of which together do not equal one full meal) and on which the faithful abstain from eating meat.
“Bendita sa Bag-ong Kayo ug Tubig” on Black Saturday
Maundy Saturday lasts until 6 pm or dusk, after which the Easter Vigil is celebrated, marking the official start of the Easter season. The service may start with the blessings of water and the lighting of the new Paschal candle that symbolizes the new fire.
In Roman Catholic observance, during the mass, the song, “Gloria”, which has been absent during Lent is again sung by choirs. And the church statues and icons in places where they are covered with purple veils, are dramatically unveiled.
“Sugat” on Easter Sunday
Easter Sunday is a gathering and festival of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In the Philippines, a traditional Catholic event was practiced on a very early Sunday at dawn, called “Sugat” or “encounter” (“Salubong” in Tagalog). It is a depiction of the first encounter of the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ after He resurrected.
The procession was done on Sunday where the statues of the Risen Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary would come from different starting points and would end meeting at the church entrance gates.
Do you have other events or traditional practices in your city or province during the Lenten Season and Holy Week that you would like to share? Please leave your comments below.