Holy Week in Spain is the annual commemoration of the Passion of Jesus Christ celebrated by Catholic religious brotherhoods and fraternities that perform penance processions on the streets of almost every Spanish city and town during the last week of Lent, the week immediately before Easter.
People carry statues of saints around on floats or wooden platforms, and an atmosphere of mourning – which can seem quite oppressive to onlookers – and the Easter week processions end with Easter Sunday, a day full of light and colour when church and cathedral bells are heard ringing throughout the country.
In some of the processions, marchers wear clothes reminiscent of the klu klux klan. Infact their clothes are meant to depict the Nazareños, people from Nazareth. The religious fraternities and brotherhoods are responsable for carrying the statues and organising the penitents and musicians. The Nazareños follow the people who carry the floats bearing sculptures and models of biblical scenes.
The people who carry the weight of the floats are called “costaleros” and are expected the carry these “thrones” with solemnity and grace. They use a small cushion, “costal” to protect themselves from getting sores from the wood rubbing against their skin during the long processions.
The most famous Easter celebrations are held in various Andalusian towns, Valladolid, Toledo, Segovia, Burgos, Zamora and Cuenca.
Things to do in Barcelona Easter 2014. What to do and where to find Easter parades and Good Friday processions in Barcelona. Easter week in Spain is called “Semana Santa” which means “Holy Week.”
The Easter week starts on Palm Sunday and is called “Diumenge de Rams” in Catalan” and “Domingo de Ramos” in Spanish. Palm Sunday is the Sunday before Easter week.
Shopping in Barcelona at Easter
Will the shops be open during Easter in Barcelona? No. Shops are not open in Barcelona on the public holidays of Good Friday and Easter Monday. Most shops close for Easter in Barcelona. In the city centre many small tourist souvenir shops are open and some small boutique clothing shops will be open too, but the big shopping centres and high-street brand shops are closed. Restaurants and bars are open during Easter. The only shopping centre open during Easter is the Maremagnum in the port area
Easter festivals in Barcelona
Barcelona is a modern, cosmopolitan city and it has to be said, that Barcelona Easter celebrations are not of the magnitude and splendour of some other Spanish cities in the south of Spain, like Sevilla. Many local Barcelona residents leave the city for the Easter break by car. This mass exodus is called “Operacion Salida” which means “operation exit.” The Easter “operation exit” is one of the biggest of the year in Spain and Barcelona and more than half a million cars usually leave Barcelona for the Semana Santa break.
Easter processions in Spain are organised by the “Hermandades y Cofradías de Penitencia” which are religious brotherhoods of lay people, both male and female. They have the blessing of the church to organise processions. The Pentitencia brotherhoods only parade at Easter, whereas the “Hermandades de gloria” parade at other times of the year, but not Easter. In Barcelona city centre there are two “Hermandades de Penitencia” who organise Easter processions. One is the “Nuestra Señora de las Angustias” from the church “Iglesia de Sant Jaume” – and the other is “la Hermandad de la Macarena y la de Jesús del Gran Poder” from the Iglesia de San Agustín.
The Easter processions are called an “estación de penitencia.” The procession starts from their home parish church and goes to the Barcelona cathedral and back. Sometimes the processions are also called “pasos” because the beautifully decorated and adorned Easter floats themselves are also called “pasos” and a “Hermandad de Penitencia” can organise various processions, but with different paso floats.
The paso floats have large wooden effigies of Christ either carrying the cross or on the cross. The sculptures can also be the Virgin Mary, or other saints or biblical figures or scenes. The Pasos are carried by 30-50 porters called “costaleros,” who carry the paso like a litter. The floats are very heavy and so breaks have to be taken after a few minutes. The leader of the bearers are the “capataz” who determine the “chicotá,” which is the pause between a paso being lifted and set down again. The floats are carried along the procession route to the cathedral for the station of penitance at the Cathedral and then they return to their parish church.
Good Friday processions Barcelona
Viernes Santo processions in Barcelona. The first Good Friday parade in Barcelona starts In the Raval area at the church “La Iglesia de Sant Agustí” on Plaça Sant Agustí It starts at 17.00 hours with a very nice procession with two “paso” floats and around 300 participants and musicians. At 19.00 at the church “Iglesia de Sant Jaume” on Carrer de Ferran in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona another Good Friday Easter procession starts at 19.00 hours. To celebrate mass visit to the gothic Santa Maria del Mar church or the Barcelona Cathedral or the famous Sagrada Familia. For Palm Sunday decorations visit “Feria de Ramos” on the street Rambla de Catalunya
2014 Easter Sunday
Domingo de Resurrección – Resurrection Sunday (Easter Day)
Mass and services at all Barcelona churches. Popular churches to celebrate Easter Sunday are the Barcelona Cathedral – Sagrada Familia and the Santa Maria del Mar church
Easter Monday – Día de la mona de Pascua
Easter Monday is also “Día de la mona de Pascua.” In Catalonia making the Easter cake called “Mona de Pascua” is an important culinary Easter tradition. The cakes are called “monas” in Spanish and “mones” in Catalan. Around 550,000 mona cakes are sold in Barcelona at Easter. Pastry shops and chocolate shops also make chocolate “monas,” which you can see on display in their windows. The origins of the word “mona” are not clear, but it is thought that the word “mona” comes from Morocco, where “mona” means “gift.” It might be from the latin word “muna” which has the same meaning. “Mona” also means monkey in Catalan, so monkeys are sometimes used as mona cake shapes. During Lent, the period of 40 days before Easter during which devout Catholics were not allowed to eat meat and eggs, they saved the eggs until Easter and then used them to make cakes. The mona tradition dates back to the 15th century and part of the tradtion is that this is a gift that a Godfather (or Godmother) bakes for their God-children on Easter Monday.