Happy Easter, Everyone!

Easter Sunday marked the resurrection of Christ from the dead, and the purple cloth of mourning was removed from religious images. Church bells pealed, and alleluias were sung. The salubong (meeting) took place.

The Easter celebration in the Philippines started at dawn, around five o’clock, with a procession heralding the resurrection of Christ and his reunion with his mother, Mary. After the mass at dawn, twin processions left the church; one led by a statue of Mary, the Sorrowful Mother, followed by women, and the other led by Resurrected Christ, followed by men. The two processions went in opposite directions around the town plaza. They met in front of the church on the way back.

As choruses were sung, the statues “met,” meaning they were placed side by side beneath an arch adorned with flowers in front of the church. A little girl dressed as an angel with wings and a halo will remove Mary’s black veil with a long-handled hook. Its removal was connected with superstitions about the harvest (e.g., a smooth unveiling meant a good harvest, a fallen veil drought). It put so much pressure on the little girl doing the honor.

When my mother was little, she was selected to participate in the Easter early morning ritual when the Blessed Virgin Mary met the resurrected Christ in a procession around the block next to the church. The Blessed Virgin Mary and Jesus were covered with a black cloth which the young girls would unveil. Mom was always selected to do the honor of taking off the black veil from the head of the Blessed Virgin while another girl would pull off the black cloth from the head of Jesus on the other side of the walkway.

The four young girls all dressed in white would climb an elevated platform before the procession returned to the church. My mother and her counterpart each held the pole with a hook, and the other two girls had a basket of flowers. I participated as a flower girl a few times when I was young.

After the unveiling, they sang Hosanna, a hymn of praise and adoration, and sprinkled petals of fragrant flowers to the crowd as people followed the procession back to church.

Easter was also marked by many other customs related to growth and renewal: the sick were lifted from their beds to receive new vigor; the short jumped and stretched to gain height; parents tossed young children in the air, believing they would thrive; plants were shaken so they will grow well. The fast of Lent ended with a lavish Easter feast.

Maligayang Pasko ny Muling Pagkabuhay sa inyong lahat!!!


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