If you are here for Easter week, get ready to travel back in time and be swept off your feet by the festivities. Around the world, Easter week is known as Holy week or Semana Santa. It is a time of celebration of Jesus. To others, Easter is the time for delicious food and tasty chocolates in a shape of bunny rabbits. However, Spain takes this celebration very seriously. They still maintain many of the traditions from the 15th century, which makes it a slightly more solemn affair. It is a week long festival with passionate and traditional religious ceremonies. Each day of the week revolves around different aspects of Christ. Below you will find a guide of what is going on so you can join in on the festivities from April 9th – April 15th followed by Easter on Sunday April 16th and Monday April 17th.
The great thing about celebrating a holiday in a different country is that you open yourself to a whole world of new traditions and customs that you would have never experienced back home! And celebrating in Barcelona is even more special, as the Catalans usually have traditions that differ from the rest of Spain! Some of which include: Making figures and crafts out of dried palm leaves with family or friends to decorate the balcony and to bring to the Sunday parade, which are known as Palmones. Stuffing your face with sweets known as Monas to celebrate the end of Lent. Heading to the famous Chocolate Museum of Barcelona to indulge in the cities most deliciously made chocolates and sweets. Attending the many traditional Easter parades and processions around the city. And finally, spending your days cooking some of the delicious, Catalan delicacies for Easter!
Palm Sunday: April 9th
The first parade/procession of Easter is “El Paso de la Borriquita” in the Cuitat Vella district. The procession commemorates the arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem and the city is filled with stalls lining the streets selling unique bleached palm fronds. To spot the start of a procession, look out for the giant cross that is always carried at the front. Visit the Feria de Ramos markets outside Barcelona Cathedral, on the street Rambla de Catalunya or by the Sagrada Familia, to find palmónes and palmas for sale on the days leading up to Palm Sunday. Another tradition on Palm Sunday is that children should wear a new item of clothing. The saying goes “Domingo de Ramos – al que no estrena se la caen las manos!” which means, if you don’t wear something new your hands will fall off. Check on the article on Easter processions to find out more details!
Good Friday: April 14th
Shops are closed, but museums and restaurants are still open on this day. The first procession starts in the Raval area at the church “La Iglesia de Sant Agustí.”The biggest processions are in a suburb of Barcelona called Hospitalet de Llobregat, which can be reached by metro. In 1977 homesick Andalusians watched the Easter processions in Sevilla on TV. The processions both in the city and in the suburbs have two “paso” floats and a lot of participants and musicians. The “paso” floats have large wooden effigies of Christ either carrying the cross or on the cross. Around 30-50 porters carry the pasos and since the floats are very heavy there are many breaks. Be sure to take a look at the article on the processions to see the schedule, you don’t want to miss out.
Easter: Saturday April 15th – Monday April 17th
The Saturday is not a public holiday so everything is back to normal. The shops and markets are open and busy as people start preparing for the next three days. On Sunday, most shops are closed, as well as many restaurants. There are masses and religious processions throughout the day. Make sure to head to the Barcelona Cathedral because it is the center of all the activities. Lastly, Easter Monday is called the Día de la mona de Pascua and is a public holiday. Other Easter processions in Catalonia can be found in many smaller towns that are 1-2 hours by car or train from Barcelona. Some ideas are Easter at Montserrat monastery, Easter in Mataro, and Easter in Girona.