I think a good part of Christendom is, in one way or another, celebrating the passion, crucifixion, and death of Jesus on the cross. For us here in the Philippines (for the more traditional-minded anyway) that means a pabasa, specifically through the Seven Last Words leading up to three in the afternoon. There’s also the bisita iglesia, a pilgrimage through at least seven different churches over the course of the day, but it looks like it’s something the family will have to skip out on this year, as not only is it already pretty late in the day (and as such makes it difficult to finish the journey before night falls), but my sister’s currently conked out at the moment. Really, the pilgrimage isn’t worth it unless you do it with your family.
For the less devoted, I’m guessing that they’re taking advantage of the day to relax and catch up on whatever it was they couldn’t do prior to the Holy Week holiday. Among the online circle I’m familiar with, that pretty much means watching anime, particularly the new batch of shows for the Spring Season.
I’m in a particularly reflective mood though (besides, I’ve already seen the first episodes of the new shows), so I’m taking the time to do a re-watch of the finale of Madoka Magica which, due to a mix of real-life events (do remember it was around this time that the 2011 Sendai Earthquake and Tsunami happened) and production delays, somehow landed on a day that unintentionally strengthened the themes inherent in the last two episodes, particularly of selflessness and self-sacrifice. To a non-Japanese Catholic watcher at the time, the fact that it aired on freaking Good Friday made the message of the show all the more powerful, as it echoed (again unintentionally) the same type of qualities that lie at the core of why Christianity celebrates Holy Week.
It’s not quite a one-is-to-one parallel however, as despite Madoka’s sacrifice the magical girls of her universe still suffer through what might be considered a bum deal, spending the rest of their lives fighting off daemons without any kind of thanks (whereas Christian doctrine says that the sacrifice of Christ opens the door for definitive spiritual redemption) in exchange for their wishes, but in some ways the girls are better off than how they were prior to Madoka’s changing the rules a bit, so to speak. With Madoka stepping in to take away their despair, each girl is free to pass on without regret, instead of turning into monsters that would very likely make the world much darker.
There’s no direct parallel to the promise that lies at the end of Holy Week either, brought upon by the Resurrection of Christ, unless one interprets the familiar themes of rebirth, renewal, and of new beginnings, in the persona of Homura (and not Madoka, the supposed messiah-figure), after the rewriting of the “rules” of their world. Gone is the very dour and driven young woman that we’ve seen through the course of the show, and who we learned had suffered through so much just to be able to protect her friend, replaced instead with someone who literally had the crushing kharmic weight of several lifetimes lifted off her frail shoulders, no less determined, but now filled with actual hope that there will be a friendly face waiting for her, once all her struggles come to a close.
Of course one could also interpret the apotheosis of Kaname Madoka from regular schoolgirl, to this anthropomorphic concept of Hope (for magical girls, hah) existing across time as a sort of rebirth as well (though skipping the three-day death and resurrection thing). Oddly enough, I seem to recall (though I might be misremembering things) how this matches some of the gnostic interpretations of Christ’s Resurrection to be, where Christ the God discards his earthly body and reunites with his pure godhead. While I’m sure that being erased from existence wasn’t exactly in the cards when Madoka made her wish, much like Christ (in some interpretations) she likely accepted it as a probable (and necessary) outcome.
At least, that’s my thoughts on the matter. Funny how this weekend made me feel contemplative (though not for matters that normal people may deem “important”), but I suppose that’s just how things are, two days before Easter Sunday.