Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Easter in Barcelona

Easter in Spain is a big deal. Thousands flock to the south of Spain, to cities such as Seville and Granada to watch the midnight processions and even the locals park their chairs outside the route 24 hours before the procession is due to catch a glimpse of the various icons paraded through the town.

Death Dance in Vergas - Barcelona Sights
Catalunya is not really that into the religious side of things (from my own experience), but still celebrates the feast. In the northern town of Verges close to Girona, on Maundy Thursday there is a Medieval "Dance of Death" which dates back to the 18th Century, and is as highly regarded as a spectacle as much as the processions in Seville, for example. The tradition apparently dates back to when the Bubonic plague wiped out the village. The skeletons carry the ever-symbolic scythe, another a clock with no hands, another a banner, and the last 2 plates of ash. They are followed by hooded skeletons with torches and roam the streets at midnight with their dance.

Things in Barcelona are not quite as dramatic. Friday and Monday are public holidays, as in the rest of Spain, and there are certainly the church goers, but nothing in comparison to the rest of Spain. The previous Palm Sunday is a bigger event, with elaborate palms being bought and paraded around town after the cathedral mass, and then resting on balconies to warn off evil. On Good Friday there is usually a small procession from Sant Agusti church to the Cathedral, but perhaps the most important or visible aspect of Easter in Barcelona is the giving of "mones" or "Monas" on Easter Sunday.

Barcelona Sights - Escriba Window

The "Mones" are the equivalent of Easter Eggs, and indeed originally the mones were cakes decorated with marzipan and boiled eggs. Pocoyo inEscriba Window - Barcelona SightsHowever, these traditions have now taken a twist, with almost any creation being made possible at the best chocolatiers in the city, and patisseries. People book the Mones weeks in advance, and I've seen entire castles made from chocolate (many of these creations can be seen at the Chocolate Museum in Barcelona), to FC Barcelona footballers, or kids favourite animated characters.

The photos taken here this week are of Escriba on Las Ramblas which is one of the busiest places at this time of year (they have a bigger shop on Gran Via, where truly exceptional Mones are on display). If you're visiting the city this week, be sure to pass by the window, but early in the week, as these things fly off the shelves!

Escriba on Las Ramblas - Barcelona Sights

Unfortunately the weather doesn't look like it's going to be great for the Easter week, so you can get some extra calories in with a "Mona" to keep the energy levels up and not feel guilty!! Comments welcome as always guys, if you have any hints, tips or experiences, I'd love to hear!

For you accommodation needs in the city, try apartments for rent Barcelona as a great alternative to your usual hotel room, and for a more detailed look at the city, see this great Barcelona Guide


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