OpinionsEcon 101Celebrating Easter

Celebrating Easter


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Easter Sunday is the pinnacle of Holy Week, celebrating the resurrection of Christ.

The word “Easter” comes from Greek, which means “deliverance”. On this Holy Day is the deliverance of all mankind from the devil’s bondage through the sacrifice of Christ the Savior, and the gift of eternal life and bliss, when God Himself became man, died for us, and His resurrection redeemed people from the power of death and sin.

Palm Sunday was the start of Holy Week, where people gathered in churches across the nation, waving palm fronds as a symbol of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. During the mass, Catholics read and chanted a poem called Pasyong Mahal which illustrates the life, passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, marking the events leading up to Easter. There are many other traditions and events involved in this religious holiday.

In traditional Catholic communities, Filipinos attend the Salubong (Sugat in Cebuano and in Hiligaynon), a pre-dawn event where statues of the risen Christ and a veiled Virgin Mary “meet up”. The rite is customarily performed in the early hours of Easter before the first mass, wherein both processions are sex-segregated: the men worshipers following the Risen Christ, with 12 men dressed as the Apostles, and other icons of male saints; while the women congregants accompany icons of the Virgin Mary and female saints.

The icon of the Virgin Mary, called the Mater Dolorosa, is draped in a black veil to show her bereavement.

A little girl, suspended in mid-air from the Galilea, acts as the “angel”. From this lofty perch, the angel chants the Regina Coeli in Latin or in the vernacular, sometimes accompanied by similarly- dressed school children representing the angelic choir.

The high point is when the principal angel dramatically removes the veil from the Virgin’s icon, signalling the abrupt end to her grieving and period of mourning. The veil is pulled off the statue, or tied to balloons or doves that are released into the dawn sky.

The sorrowing Virgin is ritually transformed into Nuestra Señora de Alegria (Our Lady of Joy); in celebratory veneration, the angels throw petals at the icons of the Christ and the Virgin, as confetti rains down.

The moment is punctuated by bells pealing, brass bands playing, and fireworks. The reunited congregation then gathers inside the church for the first Mass of Easter.

What is our experience of the joy of Easter? It is a day celebrated with families and friends gathered to enjoy the bonds of love. It is the joy of Easter that will restore  hope if  believers follow the example of Mary of Magdala, Joanna, and Mary, the mother of James.

The joy of Easter must be shared. It is the fuel that shatters the darkness, and ignites the flame of hope.

May our celebration of Easter be filled with joy, faith, hope, and love. The Lord is Risen! Alleluia! Happy Easter!


Author’s email: whelmayap@yahoo.com



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