GALILEE – Traditionally, in rural areas, especially in Galilee, every Saturday before Palm Sunday, groups of children go from house to house to sing the miracle of the resurrection of Lazarus. It’s beautiful day which combines festivity and proclamation of the Word.
The story and the message of Christ, we know, have been transmitted to the Christian Community orally and formally transmitted in the Gospels. In the Holy Land, some evangelical episodes and some Christian holidays are carefully passed down in the form of popular traditions. Among these traditions is the “Saturday of Lazarus”.
It is a tradition handed down in some Eastern Christian communities since time immemorial, but which today is shared by many Christian communities in the East, especially in rural areas, particularly in Galilee.
On the Saturday before Palm Sunday, the youth of the parishes, schools, and associations such as the Scouts, gather in small groups of six to eight members and go from house to house in Christian neighborhoods. These groups like to partner with some Muslim youth and children. And some Muslim families also call for a visit. The Qur’an, in fact, mentions the resurrection of the dead miracles performed by Jesus.
Once in the house the group of “Lazarists” (as we call them) deploys a long roll, artistically decorated, on which is written an old story of Lazarus. A young, but also a family member, preferably a patient, is positioned under the roll which acts as a shroud or a grave. Young people sing and when they get to the verse “Out of the tomb”, the young person imitating Lazarus comes out from under the roll which is folded back.
Generally a moment of hospitality follows, the family distributes Easter treats and give an offering donated to charity often in support of poor families. The time spent in homes is unfortunately very short because each group, on that day, must visit an average of thirty families.
This year a group of “Lazarists” from the Latin School in Jaffa of Nazareth, went to visit the Patriarchal Vicariate of Nazareth, accompanied by their parish priest, Father Nidhal Kanzua, who spoke of his joy to Msgr. Marcuzzo at seeing these young people participate in this traditional day: “It is a simple but useful tool to transmit the popular faith as well as a valuable educational activity to educate young people about volunteering and self-sacrifice. And ultimately this is an opportunity to spontaneously and generously collect aid for the poor of the parish or people in need.”
From our correspondent in Galilee