Since I was a child I used to listen to my grandmother’s stories about how Holy Week was in her time and I remember the long list of prohibitions she mentioned; for example, she said that you could only listen to classical music, that you could not cut your hair, drink alcohol or do housework (this last one must have lasted, ha, ha, ha…).
Whenever I asked her why, she always answered the same… “Because it is a sin!”.
Over time, Holy Week has taken a different turn and from being a time for reflection or spiritual recollection. Now it is the ‘perfect’ excuse to plan vacations, visit family or simply disconnect from the daily routine.
However, in our country, there are still cities that keep the traditions and continue to perform Eucharist, processions and religious rites linked to this time, as is the case of Popayán, Mompox, Buga, among other devout Catholic towns.
Going back to my grandmother, during Holy Week various myths have been created, but no one knows what their real origin is. It is worth mentioning the one about not having sex because the punishment, in case of disobedience, is to go straight to hell.
It turns out that there is no biblical quote that forbids it. Even the myth of “getting stuck” for having sex on holy days is false; this “accident” could happen at any time of the year, because it is an involuntary contraction of the muscles of the vagina that “trap the penis”, the most effective solution is to inject the woman with a muscle relaxant and thus “free” her partner…
But I do not want to distract you from the subject. In this regard, José de Jesús Aguilar, a Catholic priest, affirms: “Sex is permitted on these dates; however, the encounters must be motivated by love and the couples must be married”.
In the Middle Age, the concept of sin in relation to one’s own body was born. According to these beliefs, the body is separated from the soul and the salvation of the soul was more important than the pleasure of the flesh (body).
Denis Janz, professor of Christian history at Loyola University, New Orleans (USA) talks about abstinence: “It is believed that this renunciation used to be encouraged in the 14th and 15th centuries. Catholic Church records showed a drastic decline in births nine months after Lent”.
An investigation by the Universities of Valencia (UV) and Alcalá (UA) in Spain, showed that during Francoism (Francisco Franco’s dictatorship), the number of births during Lent was lower before and after this period of the Catholic calendar, following the precept of sexual abstinence.
“The results of our study in the period 1940 – 2002 show that in the first decades of the 20th century, births had a relative peak at the end of spring (when Lent ends) and at the beginning of summer (also during December), and this situation was maintained during the period 1940 – 1979, although with a tendency to homogenization”, explains José Manuel Pavía, researcher at the Department of Applied Economics of the University of Valencia.
This work was published in the European Journal of Population and suggests that the change the reproductive pattern experienced from 1975 onwards is due to the use of contraceptive methods for planning.
“Until now, some studies had been able to prove that religion had a clear relevance in the reproductive system prior to the demographic transition, but now we have been able to demonstrate the importance it also had until the end of the transition in fertility”, says Carlos Simón of the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology of the Univalencia.
Everyone is free to choose the way to enjoy these holy days and the traditions to follow according to religious inclination and culture. There are those who consider it a time of mourning, recollection, reflection and prayer, because it commemorates the passion and death of Jesus, and decide to stay away from “the pleasures of the flesh”, welcoming abstinence and fasting in return.
I insist, clearly, sex is not forbidden during Holy Week. There is always time and space for spirituality and fervor. It is important to understand that sexuality is not a sin, but a physical and natural expression of all human beings. So relax, having sex Sin Recato will not make you a sinner.
Traducción del español: Catalina Oviedo Brugés