Holy Week

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How should I put this out there: some time ago Holy Week was considered holy. I’m referring to it at least twenty years ago. And, I can only refer to that period of time because before that, I have no memory of what was happening.

Times have changed

Times have changed and with them the celebration of this religious festival.

Bearing this in mind, it must be noted that Colombia has always been a country governed by religion and the laws established by affinities with the Church.

Holy Week is the most important religious holiday in the country. It gathers a large number of people in the streets and churches to participate in the liturgical activities.

We should all search for inner peace, our religions shouldn’t be an issue. – M.B.G –

Solkes © Solkes

As in everything, there are people who celebrate in a devout manner and there are other people who do not. Every year, for a week (especially Thursday, Friday and Saturday).The most devout parishioners stop their daily activities to participate in the Masses and processions commemorating the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Others, on the other hand, take this as a week of vacations to walk, party and rest with family and friends.

A curious fact, in Colombia the celebration of Holy Week always changes dates. Holy Week moves every year. In 2017, Palm Sunday was on April 9, in 2018 Palm Sunday was March 25th and this year (2019), Palm Sunday will be April 14th.

There is a reason for that. Most religious holidays are governed according to the solar calendar.

Martha Bibiana Gómez © Solkes

Then, much of the Christian and Jewish holidays, which were celebrated according to the cycles of the moon, adapted to the solar worldview of the Romans.

However, not all religious holidays were adapted to the solar calendar and therefore are moveable. The solar calendar and the moon do not always coincide.

In any case, for some, this period of time is synonymous with holidays and relaxation, for others, it is equivalent to meditation and recollection.

Many people cook desserts for the time and others eat them. Other people look for and decorate Easter eggs.

An entire week of holidays (I did this when I lived in Colombia) is a trend that has been acquired for years.

I am very aware that since I was in school (specifically since high school) Easter meant a week of sun and beach time either with family or friends.

This is some of the information about the past and present of this celebration.

Historically, Holy Week is celebrated since 33 BC. Afterwards the persecution of Christianity began. The Christians of those times celebrated the redemption of Christ in catacombs, hidden.

Much later, with the papal decree from Máxima Redeptionis, promulgated in 1955, Pope Pius XII structured the liturgy of the week as we know it today.


The Semana Mayor

This religious celebration is known as the Semana Mayor. But, why?
Lately, we have been foccusing more on stuff rather than the sacred side of things.

Let’s start with the fact that the Catholic Church has its own calendar, called the liturgical year. Holy Week is known as Semana Mayor because it is the time with the most intense activity within the Church and the one with the most significant content load during the year. It also recalls the last week of Jesus Christ on earth.

Martha Bibiana Gómez © Solkes

Each day has a different meaning. It all starts with Palm Sunday. On this day the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem is celebrated while the people praise him and proclaim him as king.

On Holy Monday: Mary Magdalene rinsed her feet with perfumes. Holy Tuesday: it was the day when the Sanhedrin met to organize the capture of the Nazarene, where Judas Iscariot was offered 30 silver coins in exchange for his collaboration to catch the Messiah. And, Holy Wednesday: It is the end of Lent and the beginning of Easter.

Solkes © Solkes

On Holy Thursday: The lavatory of feet and institution of the Eucharist. Three great mysteries are also celebrated: the institution of the eucharist, the creation of the priesthood and the sacrament of charity.

Good Friday: The passion and death of Jesus. Jesus was arrested at dawn and presented before several courts directed by Annas, Caiphas, Pilate and Herod. The only one who found him innocent was Pilate, but due to popular pressure, he decided to submit him to democracy and the people decided to let Barrabas free, a thief, and that Jesus be crucified.

I was surprised to learn that on Good Friday, Peter (apostle) denied his Master 3 times and Judas, on hearing the sentence, repented. After returning the coins, he ended his life by hanging himself.

In general, during that day a fast takes place. In the morning, the cross is made to meditate on what Jesus had to suffer for the sin of humanity and to accompany him in all his sufferings.

On Easter Saturday there is a Paschal Vigil. The faithful are in mourning and often bless the fire and water. Finally on Easter Sunday the resurrection of Christ is celebrated.

The celebration of Holy Week dates back to colonial times. Colombia is a fervent and believing country, its faith is honored during Easter Week.

The most representative

Every year, during eight days activities are reduced and the faithful participate in the staging of the great mysteries of passion, death and the rising of Jesus Christ. Each ceremony is unique and reflects the traditions of the region.

This is a celebration that takes place throughout the country. However, there are places that have special celebrations, the most representative ones. These places are:

Solkes © Solkes

Mompox: During the Holy Week in Mompox, people decorate the saints with their jewels. The ssaints parade in a long processions through the streets to commemorate the death of Christ.

Popayán: One of the most religious cities in Colombia. During this time they usually perform five night processions and a daytime procession that is the Sunday of bouquets.

Tunja: They usually hold multiple cultural events to complement religious activities, acts such as concerts, religious art exhibitions, conferences, processions, among others.

Pasto: They usually perform multiple cultural events to complement religious activities.

Pamplona: It is one of the most important in Colombia.

Different types of celebrations

Solkes © Solkes

Since the idea was to see the different ways people live Holy Week in Colombia and if possible in other places, we decided to ask them about it.

Solkes: Where are you from and where do you live?

Katy Torres: I live in Duisburg -NRW, Germany for almost 2 years. I am Venezuelan, and before coming here, I lived in Panama for 8 years.

Milena Suarez: For five years I have lived in Cologne, Germany. I am from peru.

David M: I’m from Berlin and I live in Berlin.

Martha Bibiana Gómez: I was born in Sevilla, Valle del Cauca – Colombia. With a population of approximately 50,000 inhabitants very Catholic and recognized as “The coffee capital of Colombia” (Law 817 of 2003). For almost 28 years I lived in Cali and 11 years ago I decided to return to live in Sevila, my town.

The only special thing is regarding the Easter Eggs. I do a lot of activities with the kids. – Katy Torres –

Solkes: What is Easter for you?

Katy Torres: Holy Week, when I was little, meant a lot to me, because my grandmother was very religious, so we went on pilgrimages and almost every day to church. Nowadays, I’m focused on celebrating Easter with the children.

Solkes © Solkes

Milena Suarez: Holy Week for me is a week of reflection. I do not want to say that I meditate or stop doing all the things I have to do, but I take it calmly. The idea is to be able to rest from all the daily rhythm and think a little about how I am evolving.

David M: For me it’s a week of disconnection.

Martha Bibiana Gómez: It is to recall the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Live an experience of personal faith. It is a moment of reconciliation, a reflection of deepening the experience of Christ.

Solkes: Are you a believer?

Katy Torres: I believe in God, I go to church when I feel the need to do it. I tried to return to the habit of going every Sunday a few years ago, but my husband did not accompany me and when the 2nd baby was born, the truth was I left it.

Milena Suarez: Not very much. I mean, I believe in God but I do not go to church, it’s not necessary, in my point of view. But, if I believe in God and I like to have that relationship with my spirituality. The thing with my spirituality is something that I have learned with time, when I went to live alone.

David M: No, and I never will be.

Martha Bibiana Gómez: I am a religious practitioner of the Catholic religion. I like to attend the temple. I attend the eucharist, sometimes I participate as a reader: reading or a psalm.

Solkes: How do you celebrate it?

Katy Torres: I do not have a celebration itself for Easter. I have the easter egg tradition since my 1st son was born. I did not do this as a child.

Milena Suarez: Well, I try to take Holy Week calmly. I let things transpire more calmly. I meet with my family and friends. If we can do some excursions I do it, prepared desserts!

David M: I’m going on a trip whenever I can. As well and if I’m with my nephews I accompany them to look for Easter eggs.

Martha Bibiana Gómez © Solkes

Martha Bibiana Gómez: I participate in the religious ceremonies of the Major Week beginning with Palm Sunday, Organization of children’s processions. On Thursday I participate in the solemn Eucharist of the Lord’s Supper and then I am a spectator of the nocturnal procession of the elderly. On Friday I walk the Viacrucis that organizes the Basilica and the community participates actively and then I am a spectator of the night procession at 8:00 p.m. of the “Holy Sepulcher”. On Saturday I am a spectator of the procession of “La Virgen de la Soledad” at 7:00 p.m. and at 9:30 p.m. the solemn Easter Vigil. And on Sunday at 10:30 a.m. I am a spectator of the procession with “The Risen One” and then the solemn Easter Eucharist “.

Solkes: Do you think there is something wrong with people who do not make a fast or part of the celebrations?

Katy Torres: I think that every person is free to celebrate or take their religion as they wish, some with more or less freedom, the most important thing from my point of view, is to be good people, and that does not give you any religion, that You choose it.

Martha Bibiana Gómez © Solkes

Milena Suarez: Well, the truth is that if a person is not religious he should not feel obligated!

David M: No, obviously there is nothing wrong with not being part of the celebrations.

Martha Bibiana Gómez: Each person lives their religiosity and spirituality as it seems best in Holy Week. Everything depends on the formation of home, school so I do not judge them. Very few people really fast. It seems to me that more than fasting is sharing, with those who do not have. I believe it must be a moment of reflection and of strengthening the God who lives in each one. People have lost their religiosity and devotion, few are practitioners. Your priorities are others. They see themselves praying when something goes wrong. There they remember God.

In any case, what is true is that each person, regardless of their faith, celebrates their beliefs as best they feel.

Believers around the world

There are hooded people carrying burning torches in some places. I must say that to me, it generates absolute fear to see how people wear hoods and march through the streets.

In my humble opinion they seem members of the KKK. But, this is my opinion and just as we must respect those who do it, we also have to respect those who do not share this.

Solkes © Solkes

The death of Jesus of Nazareth is commemorated in different ways. Christians commemorate it at Holy Week, which coincides more or less with the beginning of spring. The Jews on the other hand have Passover.

The Pesach is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the liberation of the Hebrew people from the slavery of Egypt, related in the Pentateuch, fundamentally in the Book of Exodus.

Solkes © Solkes

Time and travel opportunities have shown us that one of the most impressive celebrations in Spain, Holy Week is a unique display of tradition, music, culture, theater and religion.

The South is the best place to experience Holy Week: Granada and Seville.

The cities, towns and villages throughout Spain are revolutionized during Holy Week. While each city has its own Holy Week celebrations, sunny Seville is a destination where you will experience an absolutely overwhelming experience.

Almost every country or culture has a special way of celebrating these dates. Holy Week is a very celebrated time in Latin America, a region with a percentage of Catholics of 40 percent.

This means that more than 500 million people celebrate and remember at this time the passion of Christ.

In Chile, for example, the most common traditions are not eating meat on Good Friday and delivering chocolate eggs on Sunday.

Katherinne Torres © Solkes

Peru is one of the countries that most celebrates Holy Week. To the Catholic religious processions inherited from the Spaniards are united indigenous traditions.

In many places of Mexico the drama of the Passion and Death of Christ is staged.

The end

Some years ago, during Holy Week everything was very solemn, it was seen more respect and devotion.

Solkes © Solkes

All the people were very well dressed. Now people do not care about the protocol: they dont care about their outfit.

It seems that some people do not live internally what is being celebrated. People answer cell phones inside churches.

The families participate in one or two religious celebrations as much and then they dedicate themselves to other activities that have been popularly called “Parranda Santa”.

I have always heard that faith moves mountains. And, although it sounds like a lie, it seems to be true. For the Catholic world, Holy Week is one of the most important dates, since it commemorates the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus. Times have changed and although the celebration of the Great Week has not disappeared, people have changed their way of relating to it.

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