Filipino superstitions and practices during Holy Week

EVERY year, Filipinos, especially the Catholics, devote a week to remember and reflect on the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Holy Week or Mahal na Araw begins with Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, and signifies the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. It is celebrated by Catholics by having palm fronds, or palaspas, blessed with holy water during mass.

This year’s Holy week began on Monday, March 26, and will end on Black Saturday, March 31. Streets are expected to be deserted as most people choose to stay in their houses out of respect for the death of Jesus Christ.

Apart from solemn reminiscing, Filipinos are also known to act on their superstitious beliefs and practices during the Holy Week.

Palaspas or decorated palm fronds. During Palm Sunday or Linggo ng Palaspas, Catholics attend the church mass bringing with them their palaspas or decorated palm fronds which will be blessed by the priest through sprinkling them with holy water.

The blessed palaspas will then be brought home by the churchgoers for them to hang in their door or threshold.

It is believed that hanging their blessed palaspas in their doors or threshold will ward off evil spirits from entering their household.

Abstinence from eating pork and chicken. Starting Maunday Thursday until Black Saturday, Filipinos often avoid eating pork and chicken and opted to eat fish or other seafood.

Erika Mandid, a teacher, said they only eat fish and avoid pork within the said days as it was said that during the time of Jesus Christ, swine are considered dirty.

"Sa baboy kasi sa time ni Jesus ang mga (In regards to pork, during the time of Jesus Christ) swine are considered dirty. That is why if nag aalaga ka ng baboy, tingin sa yo mababa (if you have a piggery, people often look down on you)," Mandid said.

Kyla Janelle Caballa, a college student, for her part, said they only stop eating pork and chicken on Good Friday and Black Saturday.

However, for Joy Ren David, another college student, she and her family carry out fasting on Good Friday.

"Sa amin, bawal kumain sa Biyernes, kinda fasting. Friday kasi yun ang pagkamatay ni Jesus (For us, eating is prohibited on Friday, like fasting. Its becaus Jesus Christ died on Friday)," David said.

Noise. Creating loud noises and playing powerful music are often shunned as the Holy Week is a solemn week for Catholics. Malls are also closed on Maunday Thursday and Good Friday.

Taking a bath. According to Tricia Ann Makasakit, a government worker, it is prohibited for them to take a bath around 3 p.m. on Good Friday as that was the time Jesus Christ died on the cross.

David, on the other hand, avoids taking a bath at 12 noon of the same day.

"Sabi samin umpisa na daw yun ng pagpapahirap kay Jesus (They told us that that was when the suffering of Jesus Christ began)," David added.

Superstitious beliefs and practices such as these are often told to children and engraved within their minds until their adulthood. It shows how these acts have become a part of the Filipino culture.

We may all have our own beliefs and practices but it does not mean our faith to God is different as we all acted on these beliefs with the thought of Jesus Christ within our minds and in our heart.