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Holy Week in Catalonia

Holy Week in Catalonia - Catalonia news

The Holy Week is a religious feast very established in Spain. In Catalonia, it’s celebrated with a lot of acts, like the Silence Procession of Badalona or the Macabre Dance of Verges.

The night of Holy Thursday is the night of the evening processions and performances that recall the capture, crucifixion, death agony and death of Jesus, so it’s one of the culminating moments of the Holy Week.


There are lots of processions on that day, but the one in Badalona is documented in the 17th Century and it’s known as Silence Procession because the participants and the spectators are in silence for the whole procession. In addition, the lighting is based only in the candles that neighbors use to decorate their windows and balconies and some wax candles that the members of the retinue bring with them.


Another example of curious lighting is the Holy Thursday in the Carrer dels Cargols in Verges. This narrow street is lighted by two lines of snail’s shells, which are turned into oil lamps and stuck with ash to the walls.


This thin lighting is the ideal scene for the famous Death Dance, a trace from the medieval past of Catalonia where five skeletons dance in time to the music of a drum. In this macabre dance, all the figures have allegorical objects: the scythe personifies the death; the flag means that life is ephemeral; the little dishes with ash symbolize that the worldly life ends in a volatile substance and the clock without hands remember us that the arrival of the death is uncertain.


Another important procession is on Holy Saturday in Tarragona. Only women can take part in this one, and it’s known as the Procession of Loneliness. Its origin comes from the time when women couldn’t go out in the procession of the “Santo Entierro”, on Good Friday.


The Procession of the “Encuentro” (meeting) on Easter Sunday is celebrated in lots of places in Catalonia. In Alfarrasí (Vall d’Albaida), when the figures of the “Dolorosa” and her son meet in the Major Square, a girl dressed like an angel comes down from a balcony and she removes the black veil from the face of the Mother of God. During the act, people release doves and balloons while a band is playing and there’s also a string of fireworks.


As well as these processions, typically Catalan, there are also processions from the south of Spain. Since thirty years ago, the Andalusian community in Hospitalet de Llobregat organizes them. In these processions, the moving “saetas” sung by the “cantaores” go with the march.


But there are other traditions apart from processions. One of them comes from the primitive European and Asiatic people. The arrival of the spring was a very important moment and they celebrated it exchanging eggs, which symbolized the beginning of the universe and the creation. When the Christianity arrived and the Lent was implemented, this tradition took roots, and people kept the eggs that couldn’t eat these days waiting for the Easter.

 Traditional Mona with eggs

There were different traditions related to eggs; in some places, people painted them and in other places there was a belief that breaking the eggs amongst them brought them good luck, so relatives, lovers and friends broke their eggs reciprocally.


But the tradition that still prevails in our century is the one of using the eggs that people didn’t eat in the Lent for making cakes. These cakes were given to children, and they had a number of eggs on it equivalent to the age of the kids. Godfathers and grandfathers give currently these cakes as presents to the children of the families, but they are now decorated with chocolate eggs. This cake is knows as La Mona and there’s record of it from the 15th Century.


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