Holy Week around the world

The Holy Week is a time we focus on the events that happened on the last week of Jesus’ life.

Holy Week is the week before Easter, a.k.a. the week before Jesus’ resurrection. The Holy Week is also a signifier that the Lent season is over. (Lent being the season that began with Ash Wednesday, and ending six weeks later.)

The Holy Week is observed in many Christian churches as a time to commemorate and enact the suffering (Passion) and death of Jesus through various observances and services of worship. In the Philippines, we focus specifically on the events of the last week of Jesus’ life. We pray and pay respect during Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Black Saturday.

But how do other Christian countries observe it?


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Brazil is one of the largest Catholic population in the world. Semana Santa is observed throughout the country with processions and rituals similar to those here in the Philippines. Many Brazilians will flock to the statue of Christ the Redeemer to pay respect.

One of the most beautiful traditions Brazil does in the Holy Week is the decoration of streets for the Sunday procession. People create colorful carpets with wood shavings, flour, coffee, flowers and other elements the night before Sunday for the procession to walk on.


Holy Week is also observed in parts of Southern Italy, notably Sicily. The most famous is the Holy Week of Trapani, a day-long passion procession featuring twenty floats of lifelike wood, canvas and glue sculptures of individual scenes of the events of the Passion. It is among the oldest continuously running religious events in Europe, having been played every Good Friday since before the Easter of 1612.

Mexico/United States

This one is interesting. The two countries have the Yaqui Holy Week, a ritualistic and theatrical celebration. It is most commonly observed by the Yaqui Indians. People arrive at the church on horseback on Wednesday and begin to crawl and dance naked on the floor.

Light begins to go out and people began the whipping, screaming and crying to the sound of ceremonial music of sacrifice. Children in white robes with blue painted faces and a dark hooded figure, symbolizing the betrayer of Christ, join the Thursday morning procession to the church.

A solemn atmosphere arises on Friday when a member of the church who volunteers to represent Jesus is beaten and buried for two days. Then when Jesus is resurrected, a firework display commences and people will give each other beautiful flowers.

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