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Holy Week and Easter Weekend

If in the Philippines Holy Week (Semana Santa in Spanish, Mahal na Araw in Tagalog) starts on the Monday before Easter, Kiwis in New Zealand call it Easter Weekend and it starts on Good Friday. While the Philippines have Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Black Saturday, and Easter Sunday, NZ only has Good Friday, Easter Sunday, and Easter Monday.The Lenten season in the Philippines starts with Ash Wednesday, where the faithful have their foreheads marked with a cross using ash made from branches that were blessed in last year’s Palm Sunday. The cross on the forehead is an external sign of repentance from sin. This is accompanied by the words from a pries that we need to “repent, and believe in the Gospel” or to “remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Every Friday during the season, Catholics are requested to abstain from eating meat.

Each area or region of the country has its own way of commemorating Holy Week. In the Central Visayas region where I’m from, it’s traditional to eat binignit on Good Friday, which is made from fresh thin coconut milk with kamote (sweet potato), gabi (taro), ube (purple yam), sliced ripe saba (plantain), langka (jackfruit), tapioca pearls, and sometimes young coconut meat strips placed in a big deep casserole as it’s usually made in large quantities for everyone to share. The mixture is boiled, stirred occasionally until done. The thick coconut milk and sugar is then added just before removing the pot from the flame.

Re-enactment of the washing of the feet of Jesus’ apostles is shown in a special Mass, while Stations of the Cross is done either inside or outside the church.

Easter here in NZ is different as it pertains to having hot cross buns, Easter bunnies, Easter eggs and other chocolates.

Yes, chocolate is really consumed here in New Zealand during the major celebrations of the year (Christmas, New Year’s, Halloween). Even kids start eating them and other sweets (they call them lollies) as soon as they can walk. It’s very common to see parents handing lollies to their kids. In a way, it’s more of a celebration here than a somber mood that I usually feel during Holy Week in my hometown.It depends on the person or family how they celebrate Easter here. If they believe in God and are part of a religious group, they go to church; otherwise, they stay at home or travel to another place and stay there for the entire weekend. Filipinos also go on vacations or to the beach and have fun, but only after they have gone to church.During the many years I was Catholic, I really felt it was not necessary to have this somber feeling every year. Aside from the fact it’s not emotionally healthy, Jesus has already died thousands of years ago, do we really need to literally follow what was done years ago? I would prefer to remember His teachings and celebrate His life in a positive way. Not to the point of eating too many sweets until I feel sick kind of way, no, but to be thankful that because of His sacrifice we are all saved.

Now just to be clear, I’m not here to say things against the Catholics as I still sing some of their songs during prayer time, but I am simply stating what the Lenten season felt like to me for many years.

However you celebrate Easter, hope it’s a good one!P.S. A big credit to Wikipedia for the information here about Lenten season in the Philippines.

This entry was posted in: Culture


My name is Charica Roche, a writer, food lover, adventure seeker, color addict, and curious-driven person who truly believes in personal and spiritual growth. Writing helps me become a better person because it makes me feel grounded and it encourages me to be honest about things. Currently based in New Zealand, I'm constantly searching for and following my curiosities through books, art, music, dancing, and other aspects of a life well-lived through my own terms.

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