This week is the Easter week, Semana Santa, or the silent week, depending on how you want to call it. And today marks one of the holiest days of Christianity – the Good Friday.
In Finnish, today is called the Long Friday, probably because it feels such a neverending day. When I was a child, we were not really allowed to play or watch TV, all shops were closed, and in general, there wasn’t much to do. And if you went back in time, you were not even allowed to light a fire or eat warm food for the day in reverence to Jesus hanging on the cross. And that is how the Finns invented mämmi. Mämmi was prepared in advance and as it is rich in rye, it provides a good sustenance for people when eaten, and you actually eat it cold, with cream and sugar.
Nowadays, mämmi is no longer the main sustenance of the people during Good Friday, but is considered a dessert, and people either like it or they wouldn’t touch it for anything. The same way other traditions have changed; the shops stay open, and you are allowed to work and play as if it was a normal day.
But what happens if we don’t keep up the traditions? Do we forget the core of the holiday? Just as we have forgotten that “holiday” comes from words “holy day”. And if we forget the core of things, do we really need to celebrate them anymore? Should we then abolish them from the calendar so that we’d work on them instead?
But, on the other hand, if we don’t celebrate these holy days anymore, what magic and mystery do we have left in our lives?
A long time ago, when I was about 10 or 11, I was watching an approaching thunderstorm in the darkness of the evening next to a manor house park. Still, after about 35 years later, I remember the feeling of awe, respect, and fear of the unknown show of energy. For a young boy, it was a sign that there was something bigger than ourselves. Combined with even more mystical experience of seeing an apparition when the lightning flashed, it was borderline scary.
Later on, when in school, the lightning was explained and it just became physics, and thus, a very mundane and everyday experience. It peeled of the mystical aspect of a lightning storm, replacing the fear of divine with fear of mundane events associated with lightnings.
But is that all there is? Belief in mundane and everyday? Since learning what lightning is made of, I have thought that we humans do need, nay, I dare say that we crave for, something more profound to believe in. Some of us have faith in one form or another, some of us believe in science and its ability to explain everything, and some hunt for hauntings to prove that ghosts exist. We may not think of these matters in our everyday lives, as we are busy with other things, such as our families and work, but they are there.
As said, today is Good Friday. Interestingly this year it coincides with the Ramadan Photo A Day challenge where the photo is “miracle“. For Christians today marks the fulfillment of Jesus’ time on Earth, and at the same time today marks the end of Prophet Isa’s (a.s.) work on Earth.
And maybe for each of us, as secular as we may be, today should really be a reminder of taking time for ourselves to relax and reflect on our lives before heading head-on to face the next week.
What do you think?