5 hip and holy Easter locations

Priests carrying cross Barcelona, Spain by Joanne Lane

Easter in Barcelona, Spain. Pic: Joanne Lane, http://www.visitedplanet.com

Religious festivals marking the Easter celebrations are far from staid and boring. In fact some of these are amongst some of the most interesting you’ll find in your travels. With that in mind here are five VIP Backpacker locations where you can use your discount card for accommodation and tours, while taking part in some of the hippest Easter festivals on the planet.

Philippines
As with their Christmas celebrations, Easter in the Philippines is observed with fervour. From Thursday shops and businesses close and even television and radio stations. Processions and rituals are observed across the nation. At Mass on Palm Sunday you may see people carrying palm fronds to church to be blessed, sometimes in an organised procession. These are then placed in people’s homes by their doors and windows to ward off evil spirits. On Maundy Thursday the first important Mass is held and many priests renew their vows at this time. There’s often a renactment of the washing of the feet of the Apostles on this day. The faithful may visit seven or more churches on Maundy Thursday. Good Friday sees solemn street processions carrying a wooden image of Christ’s corpse and in some places devotees will self-flagellate or nail themselves to crosses.  This is usually a day of some taboo and is often quiet. Saturday also continues this tradition, whereas Sunday marks the beginning of joyous celebrations. There’s renactments of Christ’s reunion with his mother, various processions, bells and fireworks. The entire week is well worth a look.
VIP Backpackers Accommodation: Boracay

Goan church. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com

Goan church. Pic: Joanne Lane, http://www.visitedplanet.com

Goa, India
Thanks to its Portuguese and therefore Catholic heritage, Easter is observed with some tradition in the southern beach state of Goa. Here the pealing of bells in white washed churches and midnight masses mark the event. The most famous church in Goa is the Church of Mary Immaculate Conception in Panjim where hundreds gather for mass on Good Friday. In Goa all churches organise a “Way of the Cross” ceremony in which Jesus Christ’s journey to Calvary is reenacted. A wooden cross with Jesus’ image is carried from the church with clergymen in fine robes and hundreds of worshipers. The biggest procession is also from the Church of Mary Immaculate Conception.
VIP Backpackers Accommodation

Seville, Spain

Holy Week in Spain, or Semana Santa, is most colourful in the Andalucian town of Seville where processions of religious brotherhoods carrying religious statues on their shoulders and accompanied by brass bands walk from their home churches to the Cathedral. The evening processions  continue from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, although the ones on Holy Thursday are not to be missed, culminating in their arrival at the cathedral at dawn on Good Friday. It might sound all very solemn but there’s plenty of carousing and good cheer at the bars and pubs around the city and in all there is a festive spirit in Seville. You will probably enjoy impromptu flamenco songs as well during the week.
VIP Backpackers Accommodation

Children with palmsPalm SundayCinque Terre, Italyby Joanne Lane

Children with palms on Palm Sunday in Italy. Pic: Joanne Lane, http://www.visitedplanet.com

Rome, Italy
You can’t get more holy than Vatican City in Rome for Easter, home to the Catholic Church. Easter masses are held throughout the city but the biggest is of course at St Peter’s Basilica. On Good Friday there is a Papal Mass in the Basilica and then activities move to near the Colosseum where the Pope celebrates the Stations of the Cross, giving a blessing at the end. On Palm Sunday there is a special mass back in Vatican City, again said by the Pope. It’s always crowded so go very early and be prepared to wait. It’s worth it though for the pomp, ceremony, atmosphere and tradition. An Easter you’ll never forget.
VIP Backpackers Accommodation

Mexico
In Mexico Easter isn’t just one week of celebrations but two. There’s Semana Santa marking Holy Week that starts on Palm Sunday and ends Easter Sunday. Then there’s Pascua that starts Easter Sunday and ends the following Saturday. Semana Santa is marked with numerous processions, ceremonies and rituals with reenactments, in rather dramatic style, of the capture, trial and death of Jesus.

Exploding Judases. Pic: journeymexico.com

Exploding Judases. Pic: journeymexico.com

This means there can actually be acts of physical torture and public ridicule. In Taxo penitents whip themselves and carrying large religious objects to show their devotion. In some towns one of the acts of Semana Santa is the Burning of the Judases, where wooden dolls representing Judas, are hung and burned in the squares. The second week of the season is marked by the promise of new beginnings and many families travel to the beach to enjoy their holiday.
VIP Backpackers Accommodation: Mexico City, Campeche, Cancun, Chichen Itza, Cholula, Guadalajara, Isla Holbox, Morelia, Oaxaca, Playa del Carmen, Puerto Vallarta, Riviera Maya and San Cristobal.

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Hope you’re enjoying the VIP Backpacker’s Travel Blog. If there are any travel topics you want covered feel free to contact Jo at viplounge@vipbackpackers.com

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