Semana Santa (Easter)

Semana Santa

The week before Easter is called the Holy Week (Semana Santa). Although more and more Portuguese are not really practising catholics, the tradition
of Semana Santa is still alive. In the one place more than in others. Braga, being the religious capital of Portugal by history, has turned Semana Santa into
one of their most important touristic events. It is famous for all its processions and masses.
I thought it would be nice for once to write the story of Easter and start with clearifying the easter eggs. They are from the time before christianity when the people
would hide easter eggs in the agricultural fields during the time of planting to ask for a fertile season. The Romans tried to fight the figure Jesus. They killed him, but
could not conquer his ideas, so they decided to use the traditional days of offering to change them into religious ones.

The general story is that Jesus came on Saturday (celebrated in the East) with his disciples to Jerusalem to celebrate Easter Judeu and was welcomed by the crowd as the Messias and
the king of Israel. They cheered and wove leaves from olive trees and palms. The latter gave the name to this day 'Palm Sunday', which is seen as the opening of the Holy Week.
Since then every day there are certain masses and/or processions. The one more obvious than the other.
Interesting to mention is that on Tuesday the seven pains of the virgin Maria is celebrated and practicing christians show penitence and make intends.
Thursday is important because of the Last Supper. In the morning the bishop gathers with his clergy to bless the oils used during other religious events as baptism and anointing of the sick.
This day the fasting period has ended. At night the Last Supper is commemorated when at the end Judas will sell out Jesus to the Romans.
Jesus is captured, interrogated and at dawn on Friday whipped and condemned. The night of Thursday already the church is remembering the suffering of Jesus.
The church shows the mourning and sadness by disposing the altars of decorations and cover the existing images in the temple with clothes of the color pink.

On Friday, Good Friday or the Friday of Passion, the church comemmorate the death of Jesus presided over by the priest or bishop, dressed for the celebration in red.

On Saturday (Saturday of Hallelujah is the day of hope, when the people wait for Jesus to ressurect. At the end of this day the Holy Easter Wake is celebrated, the mother of all vigils.
This time with the Glory and Halleluja, which were omitted during the whole period of fasting. There is also the baptising of those adults who prepared during the whole period of fasting.
The celebration ends with the Eucarism Liturgy, the top of all the masses.

Finally comes Easter Sunday which is the most important day, because Jesus overcomes death, ressurects and shows the value of life. This day is extended till
the next Sunday in 50 days called Pentacosta.

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