Today is Good Friday. I don’t know how people observe the Holy Week in other places but here in the Philippines, and I bet in other Catholic countries, it’s sort of a big deal. We have certain traditions, activities, and even urban legends when it comes to this topic.

The Lenten Season or the Holy Week is all about the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ. What is that you ask? (I am about to make my Christian Living teachers and Religion professors very proud with this post *slow clap*) In a nutshell, it’s basically the observance/commemoration of Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension. In more simpler terms, it’s about remembering how Jesus gave his life to save all our sinful butts. Or in even simpler terms, it’s a sort of reminder how awesome Jesus is.

It’s a 40 day thing that starts on Ash Wednesday. The “celebration” of this religious event has changed over the years. (Urgh. I feel old writing this but I guess, the world really is changing so fast that everything isn’t as it used to be) Ten years ago, when I was 14 years old, Holy Week meant a whole week of boredom stuck in the house with pretty much nothing to do. We were lead to believe a couple of things to observe/do during the Holy Week.

My Lola’s Top 5 Holy Week Rules and Regulations:

1. You can’t play outside. Because if you get bruised it won’t heal because the Lord is dead. I don’t know how the Lord’s death is connected to any wounds I might get but we followed. It took every tiny bit of patience and control my cousins and I had to fight of the urge to play outside. It is impossible to STOP kids from playing outside. It’s just not in the genetic make up of kids in my time to not play outside.

So one Holy Wednesday, more than 10 years ago, my cousins and I thought, screw these crazy Holy Week superstitions we are gonna go out and play! We played TUMBANG PRESO, a traditional Pinoy game. The goal of the game is to knock off an empty tin can guarded by an IT. Players must use their slippers or flip flops to knock off the can from it’s base. So I was IT, then one of my cousins threw a slipper making the can fly off hitting my knees. It didn’t really hurt but then I saw… red! Apparently, the open side of the tin can hit my knee cutting my skin. Boy was I panicked! I really thought I was going to die then again, after a few days, I realized that it was just something old people tell children to stop them from making noise during the Holy Week.

2. You can’t be noisy. I guess, the best explanation I got for this one was that, we can’t really be all loud and happy during the week because, well, we’re supposed to be reflecting on Jesus’ death. One thing’s clear, my family is very loud so I think my Lola just wanted a week of quiet from her grandchildren. It’s one week off from our noise.

3. You should take a bath before 3PM on Good Friday. Don’t. Ask. Me. Why. Now, it’s something my cousins and I joke about but when we were younger, our Lola and our parents would make us take our baths early in the morning just to make the “3PM cut off”. It wasn’t really explained why we had to do that but we followed.

4. You can’t eat meat. During the Lenten Season people are asked to fast and abstain from things they love as a form of sacrifice. Not eating meat is one of those little sacrifices that we can do. I was of course exempted when I was younger, while they eat ampalaya (bitter gourd) I’d chow down hotdog, pork chop, or longganisa but when I got older I also didn’t eat meat. I remember in 2011, one of my sacrifices for Lent was to give up Social Media. That meant no Facebook for 40 days. It was hard in the beginning because everybody I know was on it and being online was the thing back then. After that, I realized it’s way better to spend more time offline with real friends rather than online with virtual friends.

5. You can’t go out or travel because everybody’s prone to accidents. I used to hate Holy Week. I was stuck inside the house, no TV (we didn’t have cable then), no nothing! I was bored out of my mind. Unlike other families who use the time for vacationing to different parts of the country, we stayed home, went to church, and didn’t eat meat. The only consolation I get was when my cousins would come over and we’d spend the day playing cards or board games (we weren’t allowed to play outside, remember?) trying our hardest to keep our laughs and voices down so we won’t get in trouble with the Holy Week police (our Lola :D).

Of course, a lot has changed now. Our peaceful village streets aren’t as quiet during the Holy Week with our noisy neighbor’s motorcycle repair shop up and running even on Good Friday. There are lots of shows on TV so it’s not as boring as it used to be. Holy Week these days meant a full week away from work (Hell YEAH!) and a weeks worth of DVD marathons and catch up on your favorite TV series. People aren’t stuck at home, they’re at the beach basking under the sun and posting Facebook photos of their tan lines or the view from their hotel over looking the shore. For those who stay in the city, they do the usual activities like the Visita Iglesia with the blow by blow update on their locations posted on their Twitter feeds.

I kinda miss the more peaceful and quiet Holy Week back when I was younger. It was definitely boring then, I must admit, but these days, I don’t know, I just feel like we might be missing the point of the whole season. With all the different activities we do. I’m not here to tell you how to spend the Holy Week but as I am writing this, I am reminded of what this week is about. It’s about reflecting on Jesus’ life and ours too. We could do whatever we want or go wherever we please during this season but I hope we could all spare a little time and just reflect. We can all reflect in the comforts of our home or on an island someplace far from the city. Wherever we are or whatever it is that we do, it’s a good time to put things into perspective. Anyway it’s not about living a holy week but living a holy life.