Faith Based Celebrations
Christmas in the Holy Land
Bethlehem and Jerusalem
Being the birthplace of Jesus, Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem are extensive with Christmas lights decorating the streets, nativity scenes and Christmas plays being performed. On Christmas Eve the main procession to the Church of The Nativity is led by a group of horsemen on Arabian horses and followed by a lone rider on a black steed bearing a cross. Following him are the Clergymen and Government officials. The procession enters the Church and places an image of the Holy Child inside. They continue from there down to the grotto of the Church to the spot where Jesus was born which is marked by a silver star. Thousands of locals and visitors gather around the doorway of the Church and on the rooftop to watch this striking procession.
Holy Week & Easter
Malta is the perfect retreat for those wanting to celebrate their Roman Catholic heritage -- the islands present a kaleidoscope of past and present; a fascinating legacy of European culture and rural Mediterranean traditions. Religion plays a very important role in modern-day Malta, and, at no time is it more evident than at “festa time”—the joyous celebration of the parish feast. One of the great festas in Malta is celebrated at Easter. Holy Week commences on the Friday preceding Good Friday when the statue of Our Lady of Sorrows is carried in a procession through the streets of Valletta and many other towns and villages. On Maundy Thursday - the eve of Good Friday - the ‘seven visits’ take place, which are the visits to seven different churches, to pay homage to the Altars of Repose. Good Friday commemorates the Passion of the Christ with a solemn procession of statues. The ringing of church bells announces the Resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday. Mid-morning on Easter Sunday, a procession with the statue of the Risen Christ moves along the streets accompanied by bands playing festive tunes. In the end, the way is cleared and the statue-bearers take a run to carry the Risen Christ triumphantly back into the church.
Oberammergau Passion PlayOberammergau, Germany
May 14 – October 02, 2022
When the Black Plague swept through Europe in the 1600s, the small town of Oberammergau was spared. The residents of the town believe their vow to God to perform the Passion of Christ every 10 years if they were spared was the reason and henceforth every generation since then has kept the promise to perform the Passion Play. The play is performed every 10 years by the residents of the town. As a matter of fact, you have to be a native or have lived there for at least 20 years in order to be a part of the play. Over half the town is involved in the performance either acting, singing in the choir, playing in the orchestra or designing costumes and sets. 2020 will be the 42nd time the play will be performed. It runs 5 days per week, beginning May through October. It is 5 1/2 hours long, with a 3-hour break for dinner. The play takes place outdoors where the sky and mountains become the dramatic backdrop.
World Youth Day
The first WYD was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1989. The event brings together catholic youth from around the world in celebration of unity and cultures and finishes with a mass by the Pope.
Festival Of The Black ChristPortobelo, Panama
This is an ANNUAL event.
The origin of the Black Christ statue is not clear, but one story says that it arrived on a ship bound for Cartagena and that the statue washed ashore after the ship sank in a storm. The annual pilgrimage began after 1821 when during a cholera epidemic the residents of Portobelo were spared after praying to the statue. The festival these days includes the statue being carried through the streets, eating, drinking and dancing throughout the night.
Semana SantaAntigua, Guatemala
This is an ANNUAL event.
Semana Santa (or Holy Week) is the annual Easter celebration where hundreds dress in purple robes for daily religious processions in remembrance of the Crucifixion. Local streets are covered in elaborate and colourful designs made from sawdust, sand and flower petals. These designs are destroyed as the processions trample over them.
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