Black Saturday in the Philippines

Black Saturday, known as "Sabado de Gloria" or "Sabado Negro" in the Philippines, is a significant day observed by the predominantly Catholic nation during the Holy Week leading up to Easter Sunday. It falls on the Saturday after Good Friday and before Easter Sunday. As the date of Easter varies each year, Black Saturday is also determined by the lunar calendar, typically falling between March 21 and April 25.


The observance of Black Saturday in the Philippines can be traced back to the arrival of Spanish colonizers in the 16th century. They brought with them Christianity and various religious traditions, including the celebration of Holy Week. Over time, Filipinos embraced these customs and integrated them into their own cultural practices, making it an important part of the Philippine religious calendar.


National customs for Black Saturday in the Philippines

On Black Saturday, the atmosphere in the Philippines is solemn and reflective. The day is marked by silence and mourning, as it represents the time when Jesus Christ was laid in the tomb after his crucifixion. Many Filipinos spend this day in prayer, meditation, and attending religious services.

Churches are usually adorned in black or purple, symbolizing grief and sorrow. Most businesses and establishments are closed, and no festive events or loud music are allowed to maintain the somber mood. Television and radio stations often limit their programming to religious content or go off the air completely, encouraging people to focus on the spiritual aspects of the day.

Local customs for Black Saturday in the Philippines

While the overall tone of Black Saturday is consistent across the Philippines, some regions have unique local customs as well. In certain provinces, processions and reenactments of the burial of Jesus Christ are common, with participants carrying a life-sized statue of the crucified Christ in a glass coffin, accompanied by mournful music and prayers.

In some areas, like the provinces of Bulacan and Pampanga, makeshift tombs or "kalbaryos" are created, where devotees can visit and offer prayers. These temporary structures are usually adorned with flowers and candles and may feature an image of the dead Christ.

Another local custom includes the practice of "Pabasa," a chanted reading of the "Pasyon," a narrative of Christ's life, passion, and resurrection. This is done continuously, usually for 24 hours, by a group of people taking turns in reading the text in a rhythmic, melodic manner.


Black Saturday in the Philippines is a day of deep reflection, mourning, and spiritual contemplation. As part of the Holy Week, it serves as a reminder of the sacrifice and suffering Jesus Christ endured for the salvation of humanity. The various customs and traditions observed on this day contribute to the unique way Filipinos commemorate the passion and death of Christ, ultimately preparing themselves for the joyous celebration of Easter Sunday that follows.