In Bayanan where I grew up, the Feast of Saint Mary Magdalene is a big event. People who have been away from our place, like myself, would usually schedule their around the Fiesta, as we call it.
The Fiesta (which in the Philippines) is usually a grand celebration, not only for the community as a whole, but also for each member household.
In the olden days, (I am speaking here specifically about my birthplace) people would go into debt so that they could lay out a feast for those coming to visit. It was a big open house where even strangers were welcomed in homes. I doubt if that is still true these days when houses hide behind gates.
Days before the big event, the community would be busy decorating the neighborhood with colorful buntings and banners. Families would clean up their houses and surroundings. Novena Masses were celebrated in the parish church. The Festival Committee organized the events and entertainments. On Fiesta Eve, a procession would be held after the last Novena Mass. Later in the night, the people would have festivities in the village plaza just across the Church. At home, friends from neighboring villages would come over bearing their own utensils to help with the cooking. On these nights, I’d go to sleep to the rhythm of knives pounding the chopping block.
Mornings would find us enveloped with the aroma of freshly cooked food as we got ready for the Mass. On this special day, we had the luxury of choosing from several scheduled Masses. I often attended the one celebrated by the Archbishop who makes a special trip to our Church for the Feast of Saint Magdalene. He would concelebrate the Mass with other visiting priests. Afterwards, we visited with neighbors and relatives to sample their tasty offerings.
Alas! We could not prolong our stay until the Feast Day. Due to (my husband’s) work commitments, we had to leave before the July 22 celebrations. However, we were able to witness the procession. Acknowledging that many could not participate in the procession because they are busy in their respective homes during the Feast Day or are at work or at school, the Parish moved the procession to the Sunday immediately before the Feast Day. The new schedule was kind of odd to me but I was quite thankful and happy to be in it again. My eyes misted when I beheld the procession. It was a especially lovely day for me.
I am linking with Ailsa’s Travel Theme: Tradition with this post. What a timely theme it is for me. 🙂 Do head over to her page for wonderful, colorful interpretations of the theme.