As we embrace the first weeks of Spring, Gozo is preparing for the sombre Holy Week celebrations and the triumphant Easter feast!
Lent and the Holy Week are deeply rooted in the Roman Catholic traditions. A visit to Gozo during this season means experiencing the faith and piety of the people, expressed not only in the ceremonies, prayers, devotions and events that have been a part of the culture or centuries but also in the food and dishes that people eat.
For a good dose of the season’s mood, one should not miss attending the Via Crucis, that will take place at dusk on the Għammar hillside (opposite the Ta’ Pinu church) on Sunday 2nd April. The devotees following the pilgrimage carry candles as they walk up the hill, in an atmosphere of prayer and penitence. Other events like the ‘The Passion in the Valley’, being held at Lunzjata Valley on the 26th March will portray Jerusalem’s natural environment during the times of Jesus Christ. During these weeks, Gozo will also host several artistic exhibitions and sacred music concerts.
Starting off with the jubilant feast of Palm Sunday, the Holy Week is a busy week for the churches. The liturgical rites of Maundy Thursday are followed by the Altar of Repose and this is a time when many people visit the churches to pray until late at night. The liturgical celebrations, ambience and accompanying music in churches are all set at kindling the memory of the death of the Jesus Christ and laden with the mournful sentiment that is typical of the Holy Week.
As for pageants, processions and plays, these are a mix of drama and faith. The pilgrimage of Our Lady of Sorrow, held on the Friday before Good Friday is considered as one of the most pious events. The processions and pageants, all focusing on the event of the death of Christ, include people dressed up as characters from the Bible and richly-dressed papier-mâché statues, some of which are hundreds of years old presenting the stations of the Cross. Some of the processions on Good Friday include hooded persons who trudge heavy chains behind them as in fulfillment of a vow or act of penance. The clanging of chains on the streets is only drowned by the sorrowful and melancholic marches that the accompanying bands play.
The grief and sadness of Good Friday soon make way for the joy of Easter Sunday morning! Attending the processions of the Resurrected Christ is a must! Some of the processions, such as the one of San Ġorġ in Victoria is as early as 8.45 in the morning but there are at least 9 other localities that hold the procession later on during the day.
Sunday’s the time to get hold of Figolli and the Easter Eggs. Children can join in the Easter Egg Hunt in Villa Rundle gardens from 10.00a.m. onwards for a feast of child-focused activities!
To find out which activities take place around the Holy Week and Easter in Gozo and further planning, click here.