Monday, April 06, 2015

Pasqua en Catalunya: Easter Traditions in Spain and Catalonia

When you think of the word "Easter", what comes to mind?  Easter bunnies, chocolate eggs, egg hunts, plastic baskets kids make from those empty green strawberry crates and ribbons? Well, here in Spain it means something a little different! In fact, in my Spanish class, someone asked how to wish someone a 'Happy Easter' and our prof said that there isn't really an expression --- and from what she remembered from her childhood, "There was nothing 'happy' about Easter"! (No kids crafts, no chocolate eggs, etc.)

It's traditionally a religious week called "Semana Santa", week of the Saints. It starts with Palm Sunday, the week before Easter. Traditionally, godparents give their godchildren a giant palm branch (I actually saw some kids walking around with these last Sunday). According to one of my Spanish profs, in her region, the palm tree leaves were strung with candies and given to kids --- the kids had to hold the leaves during the entire church service before being allowed to eat the candy!!!  These days, families go on holiday for Semana Santa, but apparently 20 years ago most people just went to see their families or stayed home to attend religious events.

Nowadays (and traditionally in some regions), kids get "Monas de Pasqua", which are cakes that are decorated with chocolate easter eggs, cartoon characters and come in a variety of flavours.  According to the news, the most popular "mona" figure this year is Elsa, the lead character of Disney's cartoon movie Frozen. The traditional monas are made of almonds, but of course, I bought myself a chocolate and cream one.  Mmmm!!  

My Easter "Mona" 
Mine was only about 4 euros, but you wouldn't believe how much the huge ones with chocolate carved figures were ---some were about 50 euros!!!

Processions of saints like the one below (photo from apparently occur all week, especially during Easter weekend. If we had had more time to hang around Huesca after we went hiking in Ordesa and Monte Perdido National Park on Friday, we would have stopped by to see their town's procession; apparently it is one of the best. I caught the highlights of one of them on the news, though!


HAPPY EASTER, everyone!

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