On Sunday, April 4th, many around the globe celebrated Easter. Well, here in Spain, Pascua or Easter is more than a day, it is a long weekend event and lasts through Monday. I get the feeling that Easter is a more important celebration in other regions of Spain. It is important in Catalunya, but does not seem to have the prominence in the community that you hear about in Seville and Malaga.
Palma Blanca Artisans | Photo: Diaro Informacion
Typically, schools are closed during Semana Santa (Holy Week) - the week preceding Easter Sunday. Semana Santa begins with Domingo de Ramos (Palm Sunday). Prior to Palm Sunday, throughout the city, you will see people selling elaborate scultpures made from palm fronds. And to think I was impressed with my mom making a cross out of our palms from Palm Sunday as a child!
Jueves Santo (Maundy Thursday/ The Last Supper) is a public holiday in Spain. Some travel guides state that it is not observed in Catalunya, however some places of businesses were closed or were only open in the morning.
Viernes Santo (Good Friday) is a public holiday as well (in fact, many companies are closed entirely during Semana Santa). Catholics are not supposed to eat meat on Fridays during Lent (some avoid meat on all Fridays and some only on Good Friday). Lines at the fishmongers were especially long during Semana Santa. On Good Friday, the famous processions of hooded penitents carrying crosses representing the death of Jesus take place. Cities in the south of Spain are known for large processions and people even camp out over night for good viewing spot. Barcelona held two Viernes Santo processions.
Good Friday Procession | Photo: ACA Cofradia Hospitalet de Llobregat Barcelona
Pascua (Easter Sunday)
Pascua Procession | Photo: ACA Cofradia Hospitalet de Llobregat Barcelona
On Pascua (Easter Sunday) hoods are removed during the day's processions as Catholics rejoice the resurrection of Jesus. Families gather for meals and enjoy many sweet treats as Lent is officially over.
Pascua Lunes (Easter Monday) is a public holiday in Catalunya, but supposedly not the rest of Spain (they had Thursday and Friday off, Catalans get Friday and Monday). I am not quite sure what Monday is about and why it is a holiday?
:: Easter Food ::
Popular Easter and Lent fish dishes in Catalunya are Bacalao (salt cod), Bacalao with Garbanzos and Bacalao with Potatoes (recipes are in Spanish, you may use Google Translate to change into your language.)
However, the real stars of the Pascua meal are the sweets! La Mona de Pascua is an Easter cake made with eggs that were supposed to be saved during Lent (I wonder if anyone really does this anymore?). In bakeries, I saw some simple Monas de Pascua that looked like the figure eight style in the first photo or a plain ring with a few toppings. More prolific are the feathered and heavily-decorated cakes similar to the second photo. Traditionally, Godparents give their godchildren a mona for Pascua.
Bunyols | Photo: XTEC Malegret
Bunyols/Buñuelos (recipe in Catalan) are one of my favorite Easter treats. These fried doughnuts remind me of the Portuguese Fillozes that I grew up eating on Madri Gras. Definitely forbidden during Lent, I was surprised to see these at bakeries throughout the Lenten season (and I definitely made up for all my past restraint and nibbled one whenever I could!)