A Four-Day Week

The Pictures of Holy Week

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As Roman Catholics, many Filipinos look forward to this week, the week that ends the forty-day season of Lent.  Filipinos look forward to Holy Week for different reasons.  For some, it is a time for repentance through sacrifice and self-mortification.  For others, it is a time to witness the faithfulness and the courage of the people who had themselves crucified or lashed as atonement for their sins, while for many, Holy Week is the time to go home to their own provinces to spend time with their families and relatives.

Recently, quite a number of people had associated Holy Week with the north hemisphere season it is in -- summer.  In fact, many go to the beach during Holy Week because it is the longest set of holidays during the summer season.

While the mortification of a number of people and the family reunions done during Holy Week have become Filipino traditions, many are leaving these traditions behind in favor of a more adventurous and exciting Holy Week -- that of making use of it as a time for vacation.  The commercialization of Holy Week has led not only to the joyous activities done by many during an albeit solemn season for the Church but also to the designation of the last three days of the said week and the first day of the succeeding week as the Holy Week.

This synecdoche in which the term Holy Week is often used to apply only to the four days, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Black Saturday and Easter Sunday (the four days of no work and no class in the Philippines), is not the only negative effect of commercialization of religious events.  Commercialization has also affected other celebrations in the different churches.

Take for instance Lent.  Lent has been one of the most abused seasons in the Church calendar because it is constantly being used by restaurants and fast food chains to advertise the food that they are selling or to introduce a new or a seasonal product.  The abundance of advertisements and promotions involving Lent and the Lenten practice of fasting and abstinence is not without bad effects.  For one, advertisements by food establishments during Lent are neither geared towards the promotion of fasting and abstinence, nor intended for awareness of Lent.  No.  They promote abstinence but do not fasting, and they do so only so that they can introduce a more expensive product, and sell these.  In no way are these products made really for those who are dedicated to the Lenten sacrifice.  Rather, they made these menu so that people will not feel their sacrifice.  This is precisely against what Lent is all about.

The family reunions during the Holy Week are with good intentions.  After all, there is nothing better than being one with your family as you repair your broken relationship with God.  Nevertheless, to use the week for fun is against the spirit behind the Holy Week, and I myself am guilty of this because I will be away with my family and our relatives, enjoying the holiday, instead of going through a spiritual journey to know more about myself and my God.  Given this, one should not wonder why people refer to only four days when they speak of the Holy Week.  After all, those four days are the most important to them, not because of the inherent significance of these four days in the history of salvation according to Christianity, but because of the holidays that are these days. 

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