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Holy Week Celebration in Cebu

If you ever visit Cebu during the Holy Week, brace yourself because it is a very solemn occassion.

The Holy Week (which is from April 5 to April 6 this 2012) is one of the major holidays in the Philippines. Officially starting with the Maundy Thursday, this dark and dreary period is characterized by religious Catholics flocking to churches in fervent prayer. On Maundy Thursday, lots of businesses are already closed and they usually reopen by Black Saturday or Good Friday, for some.

During Maundy Thursday, there is a reenactment of the Last Supper. This includes a reenactment of the washing of the Apostles’ feet by Jesus. This is usually followed by a Holy Mass. Also, starting this day, local TV stations will only show solemn Christianity-related shows other than the daily news.

Good Friday is characterized by street processions so heavy traffic is to be expected. There is also the Way of the Cross in nearly all churches and a commemoration of the last words of Jesus. There are some who self-flagellate and even have themselves nailed to the cross as a sign of their penance and devotion. You will rarely see this in Cebu though. Mostly, you will just see devotees having themselves tied to the cross with ropes (not actually nailed).

During Black Saturday, you will hear a resounding silence, especially in rural areas or barrios. Jesus is dead, so they say. So the old folks always scare people of stories about the bad elements, aswang and evil spirits wandering around, free and happy, because, again, Jesus the savior is 'dead'.

Easter Sunday is a very joyous celebration, with Jesus rising from the dead. Cebuanos usually flock to beaches so if you are planning on having a picnic during Easter, make sure you reserve ahead. This day is also characterized by the “sugat” or the meeting of the resurrected Jesus and the Virgin Mary. Fireworks are to be expected at times. And because this is considered a major occasion, the usual foodfare such as lechon, adobo and sinugba are served in nearly every household.

In rural provinces, certain foods and delicacies characterize this holy season. Foods such as hot cocoa, bibingka, binignit are quite popular during the Holy Week.

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