Holy Week in the CR - Part 1

Discussion in 'Culture' started by easthigh69, Mar 12, 2000.

  1. easthigh69

    easthigh69 Member

    Květná neděle: Flower (Palm) Sunday

    “This day illuminates the beginnings of the sufferings of the Lord. Come, therefore, O friends, let us meet together with hymns; for the Creator comes, humbling Himself to the Cross, to trial and to blows and to the judgment of Pilate. Moreover, smitten on the head by a servant, He submits to all things that He may save mankind. Wherefore let us cry: O merciful Christ our God, grant forgiveness of sins, to those who worship in faith Thy Holy Passion.” (Palm Sunday Evening)

    In the Czech Republic, Palm Sunday is called Květná neděle (Flower Sunday). Květná neděle itself is traditionally a day of rejoicing, for it is the anniversary of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. He rode on a colt for which He Himself had sent (Mark 11:1-7). His entrance into Jerusalem is a fulfillment of the messianic prophecies about the king who would enter his holy city to establish a final kingdom. “Lo, your king is coming to you. He is victorious, triumphant, yet humble, riding on an ass.” (Zechariah 9:9 JPS)

    A large crowd met Him in a manner befitting royalty. Breaking branches of the date palm and the olive, they waved them about as a sign of welcome. The people also covered the main road leading to Jerusalem with palm branches. They spread their cloaks on the road as a show of respect, crying out: “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9 NKJV) Jesus went immediately to the Temple where He prayed and taught. That evening, He departed for Bethany.

    Květná neděle marks the start of Passion week. In most European countries, the palm which is used on Palm Sunday is a pussywillow branch. In the Czech Republic, the priests bless pussy willows, wood and water. Following the Sunday Mass, the farmers wave the blessed willows over their fields of grain, hoping for a rich crop and to ward off hail and violent windstorms.

    This is similar to the practice in various Slavic countries and in Austria, where farmers and their families carry the blessed palms or willows in a procession through the fields. As they visit each field, they chant hymns and leave a bit of the palm; the barns and other farm buildings are visited in the same way. This is done to bring the blessing of God upon the animals and crops.

    In the Czech Republic, the potency of the holy willow is held to be so great that people frequently eat the pussy willows in the belief that they thereby safeguard their health for the year!

    On this day, baking was forbidden because the blossoms on the trees would get burned!

    Svatý týden: Holy Week

    “O most kind Christ, draw us weaklings after Thyself, for unless Thou draw us, we cannot follow Thee! Give us a courageous spirit that it may be ready; and if the flesh is weak, may Thy grace go before, now, as well as subsequently. For without Thee we can do nothing, and particularly to go to a cruel death for Thy sake. Give us a valiant spirit, a fearless heart, the right faith, a firm hope, and perfect love, that we may offer our lives for Thy sake with the greatest patience and joy. Amen.” (Jan Hus)

    In the Roman Catholic Church the official term is the “Greater Week.” In the Czech Republic, the week before Easter is simply called Svatý týden – Holy Week. In ancient times Holy Week was also called “Week of Remission,” since the public sinners were forgiven of their sins on Maundy Thursday. Another name was “Laborious Week” because of the increased burden of penance and fasting. In the Greek Orthodox Church, Holy Week bears the solemn title the “Sacred and Great Week.” The faithful of the other Orthodox Churches also call it the “Week of Salvation.”

    From the very beginning of Christianity, Holy Week has always been devoted to a special commemoration of the Passion and death of Jesus through the practice of meditation, prayer, fasting, and penance. Etheria was a Christian who traveled widely during the period of 381-385 AD and wrote about Christian customs and observances in Egypt, Palestine and Asia Minor. She described how religious tourists to Jerusalem reenacted the events of Holy Week. On Palm Sunday afternoon, the crowds waved palms as they made a procession from the Mount of Olives into the city.

    After the great persecutions, the Christian emperors of both the East and West Roman Empires issued various decrees forbidding not only amusements and games during Holy Week, but also regular work in trade, business, professions and courts. The sacred days were to be spent free from worldly occupations, entirely devoted to religious exercises. Every year during Holy Week an imperial edict granted pardon to a majority of those in prison; in the courts many charges were withdrawn in honor of the Passion of Jesus.

    Following this custom, kings and rulers in medieval days retired from all worldly business during Holy Week to spend the time in recollection and prayer, often within the privacy of a monastery. Farmers set aside their plows, artists their tools, schools and government offices closed, and courts were not in session. Popular feeling caused the banning not only of music, dancing and worldly singing but also of hunting and any other kind of sport. It was truly a quiet and holy week even in public life.

    In the Orthodox Church, the church bells are silent throughout the week. The Greeks say the bells are widowed and the faithful are called to Liturgy by the town crier.

    Monday and Tuesday

    “Thou, O Bridegroom, dost exceed in beauty all the sons of men, and Thou hast called us to the spiritual festival of Thy bridal chamber. Through participation in Thy sufferings, do Thou remove the mean raiment of my sins, and adorn me with a robe of glory, which will proclaim me a radiant guest of the glorious beauty of Thy Kingdom; for Thou, O Lord, art merciful.” (Holy Monday Evening)

    On the Monday of Holy Week, the kitchen is bustling. There is a great deal of baking and boiling and brewing to be done in preparation for the holiday. Monday and Tuesday are about the only times the women have to do it, because of all the church services of the following days.

    During this Monday and Tuesday of intensive cooking, the women make strudels, jidášky (Judases) – ropes of bread, twisted like a hangman’s knot – to eat on Green Thursday...

    “O misery of Judas! He saw the harlot embracing Thy feet, and himself with guile meditated the kiss of treachery. She unloosed her tresses, and he bound himself with wrath, bringing instead of myrrh, his foul wickedness; for envy knows not even to appreciate its own advantage. O misery of Judas! From this, O God, deliver our souls.” (Holy Tuesday Evening)

    ... egg-bread for Great Friday, and heaps of coffeecake and buchty stuffed with prunes or poppy seeds, housky, a braided sweet bread, and koláčky.

    While their mothers are busy in the kitchens, the children have lots of fun making crafts, such as painted eggs and paper flowers, and hanging colorful ribbons around the home.

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