In several countries, it is customary to burn an effigy of Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Jesus, sometimes as part of a Passion play. See burnings in Mexico, Greece, Venezuela, Crete, Portugal, and Spain. The effigy is often hanged by the neck before the burning on the Friday or Saturday before Easter. For an added touch, some celebrants stuff the effigy with fireworks or give it the face of an unpopular politician.
In the Philippines, some Christians put themselves through the same punishments that Jesus endured, from self-flagellation to allowing themselves to be nailed to a cross. This “mortification of the flesh” is extremely painful, but volunteers are not left on crosses long enough to endanger their lives. Representatives of the Catholic church try to discourage these extreme re-enactments.
Maundy Thursday is the Thursday before Easter, traditionally the day Jesus celebrated the Passover meal known as the last supper and was later arrested. In the United Kingdom, the day is commemorated when the reigning monarch gives away Maundy Money. In times past, the king or queen washed the feet of the poor as well to show humility. In the modern era, the giving of alms is ceremonial, with Queen Elizabeth passing out coins in an amount equal to her age. Special coins are minted for this purpose, which become collector’s items. This Thursday, she will distribute 84 pence to each recipient.