The Easter holiday celebrates an important moment: the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Besides the religious and spiritual meaning that this holiday has, there are some other things that interest us, such as how different cultures celebrate it. Spain has been known throughout history to have had an important religious role: take for example the Inquisition or the famous pilgrimage route: Saint Jacob’s Way. In addition, in Spain there are different traditions related to the Easter holiday. Read ahead to find out what they are and who knows? You might even end up adopting some of them.
For most people, besides the spiritual meaning, Easter is all about the food. As Spain is known for its excellent culinary delicacies, this list would not have been complete without at least one type of food specific to this holiday. So, what are the torrijas? They are pieces of bread which are dunk into milk and various spices or aromas. They can also be prepared with wine and others even add lemon or orange peel. Even though the recipe might differ depending on the region where it is prepared, it is a sweet worth trying.
Palm Sunday traditions
Probably one of the most important dates during the week prior to Easter, is Palm Sunday. On this date, people usually attend mass during the morning and children are the ones carrying palm tree leaves in order for these to be blessed by the priest. In addition, the majority of churches usually organize a parade in order to mark the arrival of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem. Unlike the small crosses which are made out of a single palm frond, popular in Protestant churches, the congregations in Spain usually carry either huge, leafy palm tree or olive tree branches that have been blessed by a priest.
Ash Wednesday ceremony
This special day has its own traditions which consist of placing ashes on the foreheads of catholic people, this being a sign of remorse. In the case of Roman Catholic churches, these ashes are usually obtained by burning the palm tree branches used on the previous Palm Sunday. What is the main reasoning behind this? You know how God created Adam out of dust? Well, we are all dust and unto dust we shall return, thus symbolizing the return of Jesus Christ.
With this occasion people remember the sufferings and death of Jesus Christ. To commemorate this, many women wear black dresses with an under the knee length, while the men wear black suits.
This is probably one of the most famous rituals that is practiced in Spain during the Easter holiday. The streets of the cities are transformed into a giant stage where people display both religious and passionate devotion to Jesus Christ. They usually dress like members of ancient brotherhoods and then parade through the streets. However, this tradition varies according to the region and the city where it is celebrated in.
The Dancing Egg
In Barcelona, there is this peculiar tradition called L’ou com Balla, which translates into the Dancing Egg and it has been celebrated since the XV century. We all know that eggs are unable to dance, so how do they do it? Well, it is in fact quite simple: people put the emptied eggshells above the jets of spring fountains. The jet of water moves the eggshell, making it look like it is dancing. In addition, the water fountains are decorated with flowers, making them look beautiful. There is however, a question that has probably crossed your minds: why eggs and why water? Well, for a fact, the eggshell represents the body of Jesus Christ and the water is a symbol for renewal. According to the tradition, if the egg remains intact, the year ahead will be a good one. It seems like a tradition worth trying, right?
We all know that Judas betrayed Jesus Christ, but what does it have to do with dolls? This is an Easter traditions where doll like figures of Judas Iscariot are burned. This tradition may vary and people also mistreat the effigies of Judas by hanging, flogging and exploding it with fireworks. In some places, this tradition has given birth to controversies due to the fact that some people regarded it as a symbol of antisemitism.
Fun fact: do you know how people who carry the floats that have religious statues on them are called? If you guessed costaleros, then you are already a Spanish Easter traditions expert. The name comes from the word costal, which is the term used to denominate a small cushion which is used by the people carrying the float in order to prevent sores from carrying around for long distances. Just imagine how heavy these floats are as one can end up weighing up to six tons. That is simply incredible!
There are many more traditions in Spain that are related to the Easter holiday. However, the best way to experience these elements of culture and to have a better understanding of them, is of course by visiting the country. It is one thing to hear or read about a tradition, and a totally different thing to see it and why not participate in it yourself. The sensations are totally different and in addition, you will end up with an even greater knowledge baggage. You know what they say, it is better for you to live it in order to tell the story.
If you still have not reserved your plane tickets for Easter is always a great time to be thankful and also enjoy the company of your loved ones. Happy Easter!
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