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Filipinos’ deep-rooted superstitions during Holy Week

Superstitions have long been ingrained in cultures worldwide, often intertwining with religious beliefs and traditions. Holy Week is a focal point for various superstitious beliefs passed down through generations in the Philippines, where faith and cultural practices are deeply intertwined. From refraining from certain activities to observing rituals, Filipinos have a rich tapestry of superstitions associated with this sacred time of the year.

During Holy Week, which commemorates the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Filipinos adhere to several superstitious beliefs. These beliefs, often termed “pang-kontra” or countermeasures, are deeply rooted in the nation’s cultural fabric. Here are some of the most commonly observed superstitions during Holy Week:

Refraining from taking a bath beyond 3 p.m.: It is believed that bathing beyond 3 in the afternoon may wash away blessings received during the week.

Healing wounds taking longer than usual: It is believed wounds or injuries sustained during Holy Week take longer to heal than those obtained on regular calendar days.

Avoiding loud noises: Loud activities are discouraged on Holy Thursday and Good Friday to avoid offending spirits and attracting bad luck.

Abstaining from meat: Consuming meat, especially on Good Friday, is believed to bring misfortune.

Evil spirits are stronger: There’s a longstanding belief that evil spirits gain strength because of Christ’s passion and death. It’s thought that they become the strongest on Good Friday.

Not hanging clothes outside: Doing so may invite lousy luck and misfortune.

Avoiding gambling and romantic activities: These activities during Holy Week are believed to bring bad luck.

Not cutting nails: Cutting nails during Holy Week attracts terrible luck.

Refraining from arguments: Fighting or arguing with others during Holy Week is believed to lead to misfortune.

The roots of these superstitions can be traced back to a combination of cultural practices and religious teachings. For instance, refraining from bathing or avoiding loud noises may have originated from a desire to show respect and solemnity during religious significance. Similarly, abstaining from meat and other forms of indulgence can be seen as acts of penance and self-discipline, in line with the spirit of Holy Week.

While many Filipinos adhere to these superstitions, there is also a growing awareness of the need to challenge and question these beliefs. The concept of “pang-kontra,” or countermeasures, offers individuals the freedom to make their own choices during Holy Week based on personal beliefs and convictions. For example, taking a bath or eating meat during this time is acceptable for those who do not subscribe to these superstitions.

Delving deeper into these superstitions reveals a complex interplay between cultural practices, religious teachings, and individual beliefs. While some may view these superstitions as irrational or outdated, they continue to hold significance for many Filipinos as a way of expressing reverence and faith during Holy Week.

The superstitious beliefs of Filipinos during Holy Week somehow provide a fascinating glimpse into the intersection of culture, tradition, and religious observance. Whether followed devoutly or challenged through “pang-kontra,” these beliefs reflect the diverse tapestry of beliefs and practices that shape the Filipino identity during this sacred time of the year.


Other POP! stories that you might like:

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

The different ways people observe abstinence during Holy Week

Use the Holy Week downtime to create more space in your room

Here are the most common Holy Week traditions in the Philippines

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