Canadian chanteuse, kd lang, croons:
“Three days that I dread to see arrive
Three days that I hate to be alive
Three days filled with tears and sorrow
Yesterday, today, and tomorrow
And it does no good to wish these days to end
‘Cause the same three days start over again”
Triduum is three days that are one, the notion of combining three days into a single day for timing purposes.
Think of all the moments in your life when time stood still. When, for you, time didn’t follow a clock or obey the ordinary rhythms of minutes and hours. When we say, “It seemed to take forever” or “It went by so fast” or “Time stood still when we met” we’re not calculating elapsed time but something that shatters our understanding of time itself.
The ancient Greeks understood this phenomenon so they had two words for time. One measured in hours and days and another, a moment of opportunity, when meaning overtakes measurement as we all know opportunity is not a lengthy visitor.
This three-in-one day begins in Mexico at sundown on Holy Thursday and concludes on the night of Holy Saturday. Easter’s triduum’s three days are distributed as follows:
- The last part of Holy Thursday (when the last supper occurs)
- Good Friday (when Jesus dies)
- Holy Saturday (a quiet day as Jesus is momentarily dead)
- The first part of Easter Sunday (the Resurrection)
Traditionally Easter’s triduum are days to put aside from daily work and recreations. No TV, computers or phones to enjoy quiet and prayer, in anticipation of Easter morning. My mother shortened this time to the three hours Jesus was on the cross. On Good Friday from noon to 3PM I could only look out the window at my heathen public school pals enjoying kick ball or badminton as I was stuck inside under house arrest on a rare day off school.
Here in San Miguel, Easter officially begins Saturday night. Many will attend a wake for Jesus, go home for a large dinner and return for Easter mass at 10PM. The church is often engulfed in darkness until one lit candle begins the moving transformation to a fully candle lit church signifying Jesus’ resurrection.
On Easter Sunday morning a celebration of Jesus’ resurrection featuring huge piñatas exploding over the jardin. It is an emotional release of all the solemnity surrounding the triduum leading up to Easter and an exciting celebration of Jesus’ resurrection.
The piñatas feature politicians, Judas and celebrities not in good public favor whose dismembered paper body parts are quickly gathered by local children and sold to visitors.
Three in one is a thread in the culture of San Miguel. Three became a very important number as St. Joseph, Mary and Jesus made three. There is the tradition of a funeral triduum featuring three days of masses for the recently deceased.
Also, there is the notion of the Holy Trinity featuring three beings in one (father, son and holy ghost/spirit). I never got it but a pal with a near death experience (she’d argue it was a post-death experience) mentioned how the concept became clear to her only then. Guess I can wait to understand a triduum better after enjoying the present is a present for the moment no matter how much time it takes.
by Joseph Toone