If you weren’t aware, the Philippines is one of the biggest Catholic countries in Southeast Asia. But the country’s religious practices are unique in their own way, lacing holy practices with local nuances based on the culture.
One of these culturally-related aspects are the “Holy Week superstitions”, old folktales told to keep younger Filipinos in line during this solemn celebration.
A Dangerous Time
Filipino folktales from the past say that demons and monsters gain strength during the Holy Week because of the death of Christ. They used to say that traveling during these days would carry higher risks and that if you sustain any wounds on these days, they would heal slower than normal because of the demon’s influences. On a higher note, holy charms and faith healers also gain more power during these days.
For Black Saturdays, adults would advise young kids to do certain things in order to gain favor and avoid disaster. They used to say that children should jump in the morning before the church bell rung for them to grow taller, a practice similarly done during the New Year. They were also advised not to partake of meat on and after 10 pm to avoid going deaf.
Water is a Blessing (or Curse)
The subject of being wet or washing with water can have different connotations during the Holy Week. Laundry and baths after 3pm on Good Friday was considered a big no-no many years ago! This was because that time was said to be Jesus’ hour of death. But getting wet or rainfall during Easter Sunday is considered a good thing. Water splashed on you is considered holy water on that special day.
Noise and any loud sounds are frowned upon by the Filipino populace. As this is a very solemn event, children were often monitored and sometimes the TV or radio were forbidden from being used during the entire week to keep the solemn feel of the celebration. Nowadays, it’s a little less strict but noise is still looked down upon even today.
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
Another peculiar rule was to avoid looking into mirrors from Good Friday to Easter Sunday, especially after 3 pm. If you aren’t careful and get a little too vain, you might be greeted by something else rather than your reflection. That counts for cameras as well, digital or not, so take late afternoon or evening selfies if you dare.
Ranging from the ominous to the silly, these Holy Week superstitions are definitely an interesting bit of Filipino culture and history. While they do not have much sway with society these days, it’s an interesting aspect the people of the past and gave us a clue as to their practices and principles in a much simpler and less modern time.