Holy Week is a significant religious observance for the Roman Catholics and some Christians around the world. It is the week preceding Easter and it begins on a Palm Sunday. Traditionally, it is a week of somber reflections before Jesus’ death. While Holy Week is solemn and sorrowful it is also celebrated with a lot of anticipation about the joy of Easter.
Holy Week Traditions and Observances
In Procida, Italy, a wooden statue of Christ, made by the Italian sculptor Carmine Lantriceni in 1728, is paraded through the street on the island off the coast of Naples.
In Sicily Italy, a day-long passion procession featuring twenty floats of lifelike wood, canvas and glue sculptures of individual scenes of the events of the Passion is being held. It is known as Misteri di Trapani or the Procession of the Mysteries of Trapani.
In Guatemala, Holy Week incorporates processions with images of saints carried on huge wooden platforms. Locals, both men and women, who are frequently in purple robes, holds the heavy “andas”. The procession is led by a man holding a container of incense accompanied by a small horn and flute band.
Yaqui Indians in Mexico, commemorate Holy Week with both rituals and theater. The celebration starts on Wednesday evening in which people arrive at the church on horseback and begin to crawl and dance naked on the floor. Light begins to go out and people begin the whipping, screaming and crying to the sound of ceremonial music of sacrifice.
In Java, Indonesia, Christians hold a Good Friday processions in the city of Magelang where locals carry crosses.
Holy Week in Jerusalem, Israel is celebrated with series of masses and processions starting on a Palm Sunday. Being the world’s foremost pilgrimage destination during Holy Week, thousands of people from around the globe go to this place to join other Christians with the reenactment of Jesus’ journey until his death on the cross.
Holy week in the Philippines begins on a Palm Sunday where people carry palm fronds called “palaspas” to church to be blessed by the priest. They bring those palms home and use it as shield against evil spirits by putting them in front of the door or at the windows. Beginning Holy Thursday, most businesses big or small, are closed and work in both private and public offices are suspended. Most people return to their home provinces to observe the holidays by joining masses, processions and other local practices and traditions like pabasa (epic poem narrating Jesus’ life and death by singing), senakulo (Passion play) and pinitensya (public penance).