The Holy Week period consists in remembering annually the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It has been celebrated since the 2nd century A.C. in the countries where the Catholic religion is practiced, being holidays on Thursdays and Fridays, although there are places where the whole week is considered free, so that it can be dedicated to religious celebrations. Traditions have varied considerably over the years and are presented in a different way in each country, according to culture, beyond professing the same beliefs.
The schedule is the same worldwide, at least in what is commemorated on each day of Holy Week. The distribution of the days is done according to a specific event in the outcome of the life of Jesus Christ.
Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday, the day on which Jesus enters mounted on a donkey in a triumphant way to Jerusalem, where he was acclaimed and received with olive branches by the crowd that recognized him as the Son of God. This day is the end of Lent and the beginning of Holy Week.
In the celebration of this day, people usually carry olive bouquets to remember this event and for them to be blessed and so palm crosses can be made to be put behind the doors or next to the crucifixes and religious images.
Holy Monday to Holy Wednesday
Between Monday and Wednesday there isn’t a celebration of the same magnitude to that held on the other dates. However, the masses are permanent throughout each day, although these days are not holidays and there are few people who have the day off. These dates are famous, especially Wednesday, for being the moment when Judas Iscariot meets with the Sanhedrin to sell Jesus.
Thursday is remembered as the Last Supper, the night Jesus met with his disciples for the last time and informed them about how he will be condemned because of the betrayal of one of them. During this celebration Jesus is captured and taken under the dominions of Pontius Pilate. It is a very renowned scene throughout the year but that undoubtedly in Holy Week takes on more importance and is devoted much more time and detail. Holy Thursday is also very famous for being the day Leonardo da Vinci portrayed the image of the Last Supper in the 15th century.
Undoubtedly, Friday is the peak day of Holy Week. It is the day when Jesus, after being captured and tortured, dies on the cross with two thieves. The story tells that Jesus died at 3 in the afternoon, moment when the earth was in total darkness for 3 days, confirming to those who doubted his word that he was really the son of God.
The via crucis is an activity composed of 14 stations where 14 moments are reflected from when Jesus is sentenced to death until he finally dies. In each one, a reference is made to a specific fact of this journey towards the cross, making a reading and the respective prayer. The via crucis is made in a group of several people where representations of the cross or images of the virgin and other saints are also usually carried.
Holy Friday is the saddest day of Holy Week and the atmosphere among Catholics is towards this feeling, especially after 3 in the afternoon. It is a day not to go out to the street after this time and to spend this painful moment at home and in family.
On Saturday the pain of Christ's death continues, but with the hope of the resurrection expected for the next day. This date is known for the ceremony of water and light, an extensive meeting at night that takes place in the dark to be able to bless the candles that are lit and the water that is carried. During this celebration, and through the elements that are carried away, the resurrection of Christ is represented, as he comes to life on the third day after being crucified, as he had warned before he died.
The happiest day and the essence of Holy Week. The day they went to look for Jesus in the tomb and discover he was gone, only his mantle and the robes with which he had been wrapped remain. Christ rose again, after having died to pay for all the sins of mankind. With this, Holy Week culminates, being the time for people to reflect, repent of their sins, reunite as a family and above all remember the history and events that are part of the Catholic religion.