In part one of this post I talked about the Holy Week from Friday (Ending of Fasting Friday) till Maundy Thursday. In this part I will continue the elongated week, from the following Friday till Easter itself!
Friday comes after the Thursday of Promise; this Friday is also called the Sad Friday or the Great Friday. It is the Friday that Jesus was crucified on. It is, as far as I know, the longest day in the Coptic Church, starting early in the morning and lasting till 6 pm. That day, religious Coptics fast by not eating all day, and when they do break their fast after church ends, they take a sip of vinegar first thing!
Usually after church, you’ll find many people passing vinegar bottles for people, and also you’ll find lots of people giving away falafel sandwiches. The Vinegar tradition originated as a way of tasting Jesus’ pain, as, according to the bible, when he said he was thirsty during his crucifixion, he was given a sponge soaked in vinegar. While the falafel sandwiches tradition, well, don’t ask, it is just an act of kindness…In the more fancy churches where people are a bit more wealthy, they give out koshary boxes.
The interesting part on the Sad Friday is burial of Jesus. Every church, and at the last hours of church, when it is believed to be the same time that Jesus died on the cross, the priests make a parade inside the church with a picture of crucified Jesus, then back to the front of the church, they bury the picture in rose petals, to be left there till Saturday night.
Friday to Saturday Overnight
After church ends on Friday, tradition has it that people go home and eat foul (fava beans) cooked in a special way, with falafel, rest for a while, and then if they are ready, there is an overnight church prayer till early Saturday! It starts around 10 pm, a few prayers followed by reading of the whole revelation from the bible. When it’s done, a few more prayers and then a normal mass.
The different part is that starting Friday after mass is over, the front rooms of the church where the communion always takes place are closed, also part of the re-living the death and burial of Jesus.
After the night is over, the church changes it’s colors, the black that was everywhere since last Sunday is removed, and white flags are put around the church instead as a sign of happiness. This Saturday is called Light Saturday or Happy Saturday!
At night, there is another mass, the Easter mass! In the mass, the pray goes while the priest fetches the picture of the crucified Jesus from between the petals, as a sign that Jesus came back to life! And when it’s out, that is when the curtains for the front rooms are opened again, following the words of the bible that say that when Jesus rose from the dead, the curtains of the church were split in halves!
Easter Sunday, and Easter Monday
The mass usually ends after midnight, and the religious – dressed in their finest for that day – go home after church and finally actually break their fast, usually eating the so long missed meat based foods! On Sunday itself there are no prayers in church…
Following this Sunday, comes the Egyptian Easter, Sham El Neseem, on Monday, where the whole country smells of the rotten fish I’ve spoken of before! Enjoy your holidays 😉