But whether you are superstitious or not, it's always fascinating to know some beliefs Filipinos have about Holy Week that don't necessarily fall under natural science. Aside from the "when in Rome" factor, you never know if these beliefs can save you (or bring you bad luck).
Avoid Getting Injured During Holy Week
If you get wounded, especially on Good Friday and Black Saturday, the wound will take longer to heal. For that reason, parents tell their children not to go out during this period, and some people avoid travelling on these days altogether.
Now, it might seem odd that a wound would take longer to heal on a holy day. But when you look at the meaning behind Good Friday and Black Saturday, it makes sense: These are the days when Jesus Christ died and was buried, respectively. Basically, your body "commiserates" with this harrowing time, or so the superstition goes.
Evil Spirits Gain Strength During Good Friday and Black Saturday
Another possible reason your body heals slower during Holy Week is the presence of evil spirits. Because the Savior is dead, they're free to sow chaos among mankind. So on the days mentioned above, you should be extra careful.
Luckily, the ones who can — or are willing to — fight against evil spirits also gain strength during Holy Week. For example, in Siquijor Island in the Visayas, faith healers — locally known as albularyo — perform most of their rituals during Holy Week. The island attracts a ton of tourists during that time, but be careful: Siquijor is also known for its sorcerers, who can supposedly curse you if you so much as look at them funny.
Palm Leaves Protect Against Evil Spirits
When Jesus rode into Jerusalem, a crowd gathered in front of him to cast palm leaves at his feet. Ever since, that Sunday before Easter was commemorated as "Palm Sunday," which falls on March 20, 2016 this year.
Around this time, Filipinos go to Mass with their palm leaves, and have these blessed by the priest. Known as palaspas, these leaves will be placed on doors and windows to prevent evil spirits from entering the home. As you can see, it's a good example of how Filipinos managed to combine both Catholic and pagan practices.
Washing/Bathing on Good Friday is Bad
Specifically, the ban applies after 3:00 P.M. on Good Friday — the time of Christ's death. If you do your laundry or take a bath at that time, so the superstition goes, bad luck will fall on you. (We suppose driving bad people away with your bodily odor counts as "good luck" too.)
Rain on Easter Sunday is Good
Since Easter Sunday commemorates Christ's resurrection, the "bad" water on Good Friday becomes "good." So if you dance in the rain on Easter, you may be healed from ailments, because the rain has become holy water. (Of course, if you get colds or other rain-related ailments as a result, that's a different matter.)
Avoid Too Much Noise
Like any other mourning period, Jesus' death is a solemn occasion. Some parents go as far as to forbid their children from watching TV or playing video games during Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. Also, many local TV stations would go off the air altogether to commiserate. You can watch specials like the perennial "The Ten Commandments" starring Charlton Heston, though.
Circumcision is Best Done on Black Saturday
This only applies in certain provinces, though. For instance, in Bulalacao, Oriental Mindoro, young boys prefer to be circumcised on Black Saturday, because it's supposedly less bloody than on Good Friday. They also undergo the procedure in a forested area, because it's believed that if a girl sees them, their scrotums will enlarge.
The boys' ordeal doesn't stop there, though. After they're circumcised, they're forbidden from going out lest a snake bite them. Considering how boisterous young boys are, we imagine this is easier said than done.
Meat is Forbidden on Good Friday
If you're a Catholic over a certain age, you're not supposed to eat meat on Good Friday. You can, however, eat fish, seafood and the like, which many restaurants will be more than happy to provide. However, if you can't comply with this rule due to health reasons, or if you're under a certain age, the rule doesn't apply.
And that ends our second installment of posts for the Holy Week. We hope you enjoyed learning more about Holy Week superstitions in the Philippines. If you have anything more to add to the list, or if you have any comments, questions or suggestions, drop us a line.