How Devoted Filipinos Revere Holy Week 2024

By: Marge Santos
holy week 2024

In all Catholic traditions, the Holy week is considered to be the most sacred week in the liturgical year. Catholic believers relive the passion and death on the cross of Jesus Christ. It is the most significant week of the Lenten Season as it commemorates the final days of Jesus here on earth. Hence, this week is supposedly a time for prayer and worship, quiet reflection and doing acts of love and sacrifice. The Philippines, being a predominantly Catholic country, declares Maundy Thursday and Good Friday as special non working holidays. This is to give way for the Catholics to go on pilgrimage, observe various Holy Week traditions, go home to their hometowns and provinces, spend a solemn retreat from work and all the stressful activities or simply make a quick getaway from the city while observing Holy Week traditions.

Holy Week 2024

Holy Week in the Philippines this year happens on the last week of March from March 24, 2024 to March 31, 2024. Beginning from Palm Sunday on March 24, 2024 and culminating on Easter Sunday on March 31, 2024. Holy Week is an event in the Liturgical year when Catholics spend a week-long observance of Holy week traditions characterized by fasting and abstinence, acts of charity, and various Holy Week traditions such as “Visita Iglesia”, “Senakulo”, “Pabasa”, “Kumpisalang Bayan”, Way of the Cross, among others.

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday signals the start of the Holy Week and at times also referred to as Passion Sunday. Back in Jesus’ time people laid down their cloaks along the path where Jesus, riding a donkey, passed. They waved palm branches as they warmly welcome the arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem. In modern days, the mass is celebrated with 2 gospel readings. Before the procession to the altar, the Gospel on how Jesus entered Jerusalem was read and during the Liturgy of the Word, the Gospel on the passion and death on the cross of Jesus is read.

Mass attendees wave their palm branches as the priest presider enters the church and makes his way to the way to the altar. This act commemorates Jesus’ joyful and festive entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. There are instances that the palms are being blessed as the church goers wave their palms while the priest pass by them. However, in some cases the blessing of palms are done as part of the mass.

Holy Monday

Masses are being held daily from Holy Monday to Holy Wednesday. Holy Monday reminds Catholics of the time when Jesus cleared the temple and how Jesus responded to those who questioned his authority. Religious leaders also asked him questions on the appropriate way to pay Roman taxes as if to trick him where Jesus replied, “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s”, as can be read on Gospels according to Matthew, 22:15-22, Mark12:13-17, and Luke 20:20-26. Accounts were also written where Jesus was seen cursing a fig tree that did not bear fruit which eventually withered. This event gave Jesus the opportunity to tell his disciples that with enough faith they would not be limited to telling a non-fruit bearing fig tree to wither but they could command mountains to move. These were written on the Gospels according to Matthew 21:20-22 and Mark 11:23.

Holy Tuesday

This day was marked as Jesus foretelling His own death. In present times, Chrism mass is being held during which bishops consecrate the Chrism oil. The Chrism oil is used in the Sacraments of Baptism as Catechumens Oil and during the Anointing of the Sick as Oil of the Sick all through out the year. The mixture of oil and balsam contained in large vessels are placed in the altar during the Chrism mass for the blessing and consecration. After which, they are distributed to representatives of each parish who in turn brings them to their respective parishes.

The Chrism Mass held every Holy Tuesday also serves as the renewal of priestly promises and traditionally, every priest in the diocese are in attendance in this Mass. The Bishop also requests for the people to pray for him and all the priests.

Holy Wednesday

Holy Wednesday is also referred to as Spy Wednesday. This is in relation with the story of Judas serving as a spy among the disciples of Jesus. It depicts how Judas betrayed Jesus in return for 30 pieces of silver. The Tenebrae services are being held during Holy Wednesday. Tenebrae is a Latin word referring to “darkness” or shadows”. During the Tenebrae services, candles are slowly unlighted and chants of series of gospel readings and selected psalms are being recited as the place grows dim and is enveloped in darkness.

Maundy Thursday

Maundy Thursday, which falls on On March 28, 2024, signifies the beginning of the Easter Triduum. It is one of the 3 days leading to Easter. The word maundy is derived from the Latin word, “mandatum” that when translated to English means “command”. Jesus commanded His disciples to love one another as can be read according the Gospel of John 13:34. The remarkable event of this day was the Last Supper where He was able to share His last meal with His disciples while instructing them on what to do in days to come when He is no longer by their side. It was in the course of the last supper that Jesus taught the importance of the Eucharist and prophesized His death and also washed the feet of the apostles. During the Maundy Thursday Mass, the priest washes the feet of 12 individuals referred to as “washing of the feet” in commemoration of Jesus’ last act of service prior to His arrest at the Garden of Gethsemane.

Good Friday

There are no masses held during Good Friday. It was called Good Friday despite the agony and pain suffered by Jesus which led to His death on the cross since this this leads to Easter. It was the greatest manifestation of God’s love to mankind as He gave up His only Son to redeem the world from sin. Considered as the saddest day in the Lenten season as well as the Holy Week, Catholics are expected to go into fasting during this day. Although there are no masses held, they are expected to spend time in quiet reflection, meditate on the passion and death of Christ on the cross and avoid merry-making particularly from 12noon to3pm. Many Catholics in the Philippines still spends the day in church although there are no masses held since many observe Way of the Cross.

Black Saturday

The Triduum of the Holy Week ends in Black Saturday. The Catholic believers in the Philippines spend the day in mourning as Jesus is laid to rest in the tomb. The cross in the churches are covered with cloth and Easter vigils are held at night.

Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday is marked with joyful celebration as Jesus triumphs over death by rising from the dead. The resurrection of Jesus is a celebration of new life. Easter is considered to be the most important day in the Liturgical year. During the Easter Sunday mass, Catholics renew their faith and consciously recite what their godparents recited for them during baptism when mostly are still babies.

Holy Week Traditions

Kumpisalang Bayan. Receiving the Sacrament of Penance as part of Holy Week traditions is not mandated by the Catholic Church. However, confessions are encouraged since Lent is suppose to be a time to turn away from sin and to be faithful to the Gospel as what was being said by the priest when ashes are placed on foreheads during Ash Wednesday. Furthermore, it prepares believers to receive communion in a state of grace during Easter.

Visita Iglesia. One of the most popular Holy Week tradition among Catholics in the Philippines is the “Visita Iglesia”. It is a Spanish term which means visiting churches. It may be recalled that it was the Spaniards who brought and introduced Catholicism to the Philippines. Apparently, it originated from a 16th Century Roman tradition led by St. Philip Neri. To date, Catholic Filipinos still observe this tradition but instead of traveling barefoot from one church to another, many devotees do it by riding a car. Many prefer to visit churches in faraway locations as some consider it as a getaway of some sort. Some visit 7 churches signifying the 7 Last Words of Jesus or His 7 wounds while others go as far as 14 churches where they observe the Way of the Cross and assign 1 station for every Church. Devotees should be able to complete the 7 or 14 churches before churches close at midnight. Normally, this is being done on either Maundy Thursday or Good Friday.

Pabasa. It is considered as one of the oldest Holy Week tradition where the passion of Jesus Christ was recited in chants in a range of melodies. It lasts for a day and normally starts at 10am on earlier days of Holy Week. Group of singers take turns doing the Pabasa. This Holy Week tradition is still strongly observed in urban areas specifically in Bulacan, Pampanga and Rizal. Normally, the Pabasa is being held in residential homes, parishes and barangay halls.

Senakulo. It is a street play depicting the life and Passion of Jesus leading to His crucifixion and death. The carrying of the cross may be witnessed along the streets. One may even witness the brutality of the persecutors of Jesus as actors who carry the cross receive real scourging while carrying the cross under the scorching heat. These are a common scenario along the streets of San Pedro Cutud in San Fernando, Pampanga. Moreover, should one wish to witness the Senakulo, there are nightly stage performances in Malolos, Bulacan.


Whatever way one chooses to spend their Holy Week 2024 is entirely up to one’s faith. The holy week traditions are there as a reminder of the way Catholics give reverence to the Passion and death of Jesus to redeem the sins of the world. For some who prefer to keep the traditions passed on in their families and keep them for generations to come, they keep themselves busy with preparations and active involvement in ensuring the success of Holy Week activities for the community and the parish. However, for some who spend it for quiet reflection and acts of mercy would not mean that they are no longer observing Holy Week. Condominium Philippines particularly those listed in AirBnBs may serve as a quiet refuge for those who want to spend time away from home and observe Holy Week traditions in their own way. So long as one does not lose focus on the true meaning of Holy Week, any endeavor is a reflection of their personal relationship with the Lord.

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