Holy week starts on Palm Sunday, the day Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, hailed by the crowds when palm branches were placed in his path and their cloaks across the road, everything changed in a week.

Maundy Thursday: the story of the Last Supper when Jesus washed the feet of his apostles prior to the traditional Passover meal, or Seder. This feast is celebrated with a dish of Lamb, bitter herbs, and wine. Portugal still holds to the tradition of Lamb on Maundy Thursday (and Easter Sunday). Easter parades, are colourful, attended by sometimes thousands of people and held in many towns and villages.

The Easter parade in Loulé is one of the most famous. For more than 500 years, the festival of Nossa Senhora da Piedade, the patroness of Loulé, known as Mãe Soberana has been celebrated for two weeks starting on Easter Sunday. This festival of the local patroness of the region is considered the largest religious demonstration in Portugal, south of Fátima.

But not this year. Covid-19 has taken a huge toll on the way Easter in celebrated by Christians.

The Portuguese government has allowed Churches to be open for worship, but many have decided to remain closed although some have decided to keep open while observing strict Covid-19 precautions.

Ask your Church if they will be open or check our listings online. Holy week is a festival every Christian should celebrate, especially Easter Sunday, and although there won’t be parades, Maundy Thursday suppers, only a few Good Friday services, there will be opportunities for Christians to join in worship even if not in their usual Church.