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The different ways people observe abstinence during Holy Week

The observance of Holy Week or the final week of the Lenten Season is a significant time for meditation and reflection, and penance. For a country like the Philippines which is dominated by Catholicism, a lot of Filipinos spend their time reflecting on their personal and spiritual being during Holy Week, by immersing themselves in different traditions and practices to strengthen their faith and religious beliefs.

One of the most common practices Catholics observe during the Holy Week is abstinence. The act of abstinence is originally defined as a form of discipline where one will refrain from eating any form of meat such as pork, chicken, and beef. But through time, people have defined its meaning in a much wider sense and have developed different ways where they can practice abstinence based on their own lifestyle.

POP! asked a few individuals about what they will be abstaining from for the Holy Week. These are their answers:

“During the Holy Week, I always abstain from eating excessively, particularly from eating meat. [I] also try to restrain myself to be involved in lively and fun activities, in order to commemorate the essence of the most sacred week of Catholicism. As a Catholic, the practice of abstinence is considered a tradition during the Lenten season. And it is a practice that I have always followed since I was a kid.”– Angelito, 22

“[I practice the] abstinence of eating meat [on] Holy/Good Friday, [and only having] one full meal. [I also practice] silence most at the time & [do] extra prayer in front of the tabernacle 10 PM onwards, and every first Friday we do the station of the cross during 40 days of lent.” – Sr. Aritas, 61

Hindi consistent, minsan sinusunod yung no meat pero depende, kapag nasa Manila [kami] no meat.” (It’s not consistent, sometimes we follow not eating meat, but it depends, if were in Manila, we don’t eat meat.) – Princess, 22

Pag-cellphone, pag-nood nang T.V. at pag-chismis” (The use of cellphone, watching the T.V, and gossiping) – Gally, 62

“We are practicing abstinence every Friday pag Lenten season na, not just Holy Week. But normally, sa food, not eating meat – all sorts. Then one full meal lang kami and 2 small meals lang talaga pag Friday.” (We are practicing abstinence every Friday during the Lenten season, not just Holy Week. But normally, in food, not eating meat – all sorts. Then we only have one full meal and only 2 small meals every Friday) – Angel, 41

“This Holy Week I will be abstaining from eating and drinking any sweets.” – Francis, 26

“Be quiet maybe, not talking too much, especially with friends.” – Ella, 56

“Aside from the prescribed abstinence from meat and fasting on Good Friday, I would try to abstain as much as possible from social media exposure (for entertainment). At the same time use the hours of the week to read the Pasyon, and pray the liturgy of the house.” – JV, 22

“I will abstain myself from eating late at night.” – Randell, 24

“It’s been a practice for our family to refrain from eating meat every Holy Week. I think it’s our way of being one with the lord during his trying times.” – Sianne, 20


Each of us has different ways of making personal sacrifices for us to meaningfully commemorate Holy Week. It’s also equally important that we can do it in our own pace. In whatever form of devotion we choose to show, may we find peace within ourselves, and have a fulfilling spiritual journey during this Holy Week.


Other POP! stories you might like:

Here’s how to make your Holy Week more meaningful even if you’re not religious

Here are the most common Holy Week traditions in the Philippines

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