MANILA -- Beware, Dec. 28 is Holy Innocents’ Day, which Filipinos observe by playing tricks on friends and neighbors like borrowing money, but with the intention of not paying back.

The moment you give the money, they will say, “No hurt feelings, no payback. Remember, it’s Holy Innocents’ Day today!”

Others would use the day to play jokes as part of the annual celebration that occurs three days after Christmas.

For those who are “victims” of Holy Innocents’ Day jokes, stay calm. Just laugh and make your day.

According to the New Testament, Holy Innocents’ Day was the massacre of some 20,000 boys, two years old and below. It was ordered by a furious King Herod more than 2,000 years ago, after he learned that he was tricked by the Three Kings, whom he asked to drop by at his Palace in Bethlehem, so he would go with them to visit the newly born child, Jesus Christ.

But deep inside Herod was his sinister plot to kill Baby Jesus, whom he considered a threat to his throne.

In the reading of St. Matthew 2:16-18, it says: “When Herod realized that the visitors (Three Kings) from the East tricked him, he was furious. He gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and neighborhood who were two years old and younger. This was done in accordance with what he had learned from the visitors about the time when the star had appeared. In this way, what the prophet Jeremiah had said came true: A sound is heard in Ramah, the sound of bitter weeping. Rachel is crying for her children; she refuses to be comforted for they are dead.”

St. Matthew also wrote that the Holy Family fled to Egypt after “an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph and said, 'Herod will be looking for the child in order to kill him. So, get up, take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you to leave.' Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and left during the night for Egypt, where he stayed until Herod died. This was done to make come true what the Lord had said through the prophet, I called my Son out of Egypt.”

The Romans had considered Herod as the King of the Jews.

According to the Gospel of St. Matthew, Herod ordered the execution of all young male children, ages two and below in the vicinity of Bethlehem, so as to avoid the loss of his throne to a newborn King of the Jews, whose birth had been announced to him by the Magi.

In typical Matthean style, it is understood as the fulfillment of an Old Testament prophecy, which says: "Then was fulfilled that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet, saying, A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because her children are no more.”

More than 2,000 years had passed, and the Christian world celebrates Holy Innocents’ Day in deep reflection of the mass killings of innocent children. (PNA)