Easter in Catalonia

Category: Miscellaneous
Location: Barcelona ( Catalonia )

After living in different cities and discovering how holidays are celebrated in each culture, I come to realize how big Easter is in Catalonia.

Holy Week Catalan celebrations origins are mainly Christian related, though nowadays they are followed by people from all faiths and atheists.

Events begin in Palm Sunday, also called Passion Sunday, that commemorates when Jesus triumphantly entered in Jerusalem. According to the Bible, he was greeted by citizens weaving palm leaves. Hence in Catalonia the tradition is to give to kids a, usually highly ornate, palm tree called 'Palmó' that will be hanged on the balcony.

Starting on Monday different religious processions go across the main towns and villages. The Catalan old tradition mainly consisted on a row of people marching disguised as Roman soldiers called 'Armats' (literally armed men) that lead the pass for Jesus and the priests. The most known Armats are the ones from my home-town, Mataró (which procession has been done every year since 1705).

Due to the huge amount of immigration from Southern Spain, mainly in the mid-late stages of the Franco Dictatorship, nowadays the Catalan Easter processions include also the typical Andalusian 'paso' which could be described as a man-carried little stage with statues that depicts an event of the Holy Week's Biblical events.

On Holy Thursday there's an interesting and singular event, the Death's Dance, in which two adults and three children dress themselves like skeletons to represent the Death. The dance wants to be a reminder of the human final fate, hence motivating people to live life (kind of a Carpe Diem). It's most known location is the little Catalan village of Verge.

On Good Friday, besides the Catholic masses, another relevant tradition is the 'Passió' theatrical act. Which basically is an act that describes the main events of Jesus' last week. To give you an idea, would be the same story depicted in the Mel Gibson's movie, The Passion of the Christ.

On Holy Saturday takes place the important Eastern Vigil religious service. After the mass the churchgoers go singing 'Caramelles', songs about the Jesus resurrection, in the street. They also collect money, chocolate and eggs that will be used for a collective closure meal when they return to the church.

Easter Monday is the day where the sweetest of the Easter Catalan tradition takes place. Usually the godfathers give a cake called 'Mona de Pasqua' to their godchildren. The Mona used to be a simple cake decorated with eggs, that evolved towards big huge chocolate eggs that nowadays have been transformed in all kind of chocolate figurines (from Hello Kitties to soccer players). They are usually eaten in Easter Monday's family lunch. ♠