Friday, April 06, 2007

Good Friday

It’s Good Friday today, and we’re still at work and worse…. we’re having pork loin for lunch. We’re bad, baaad Catholics. In strict traditional Catholic terms, I ought to be damned for not observing this day in silence and fasting.

Why is it called “Good” Friday? English is, together with Dutch, one of the few languages that call Good Friday 'good'. While one could say that Good Friday is the saddest day of the year for Christians, the Church uses the word 'Good' to show that Christ has died to liberate everyone from sin and that suffering and death are not pointless.

Other languages use other names for this day.

In Israel, Good Friday is known as "Big Friday." In Germany it is "Sad Friday". In Malta, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Serbia, Greece, Bulgaria, Republic of Macedonia (and Eastern Orthodox Church in general) the day is called “Great Friday”.

In Latin America, Spain, France, Italy and Portugal the day is called "Holy Friday"; in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Faroe Islands and Iceland it is "Long Friday".

What I remember most of the Semana Santa back home are the stifling heat, semi-deserted roads and churches bustling with activity. And out of town trips and reunions, of course. Because Holy Week unofficially marks the start of the summer season. It’s a big, big holiday I love to “love and hate” at the same time. Love it, because of the long holidays, and hate it because it seems activities are limited. Well, except for that one Holy Week spent with friends in Camiguin Island, where activities were far from being “limited” and conducts far from being called “silent” and “restrained”. But it was a good holiday.

The Holy week in my mind is always linked to harsh sun, hum of church rituals, TV and radio stations on furlough, reconnecting with family and old friends. And sacrifices, little self-renunciation in our own personal way.

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