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Easter and Good Friday in Spain

The two most auspicious days in the Christian calendar are Good Friday and Easter. Good Friday commemorates the death of Jesus Christ and Easter celebrates the occasion of Jesus’s resurrection after the crucifixion. The days are observed with all religious rituals and traditions in all Christian countries and the various other places where Christianity is followed. Spain is one such country which is known for the Holy Week. This Holy Week is popularly known as Semana Santa. The Holy Week is the week before the Easter Sunday.

Traditions and Rituals of Easter and Good Friday in Spain

73.2% of the total population in Spain belongs to the Catholic community. So the country follows all the Christian traditions. The Spanish word for Easter is “Pascua”.

  • Lent Period: Easter is celebrated during the first week of April. Easter is not just a one day celebration, but is the last day of the Holy Week that starts after the preparation of 40 days Holy Lent. During this Lent period, La Cuaresma in Spanish, reminds the humanity about the existence of mankind: “We came from dust, and we will become dust again.” This 40 days is a period when humanity realizes the sinful situation and do penance by fasting and giving alms. The mourning ends on the resurrection day, the Easter Sunday.
  • Palm Sunday: It is the first day of the Holy Week. According to the Catholic tradition the day marks the entry of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem. Christians remember the Passion, Death and Resurrection in this entire week. In Spain, the biggest palm grove of Europe is located which is popularly known as Palmeral of Elche. It is a tradition to tie and cover the palm leaves in order to whiten the palm leaves away from sunlight. Then they are dried and braided in various elaborate shapes. On Palm Sunday people are supposed to wear something brand new and carry palm branch while entering the church. These branches are blessed by the priest of the church.
  • Nazareno: It is a very important custom in Spain during Good Friday and Easter time. During the Holy Week, processions are arranged on the street. Few participants wear the penitential robe known as nazareno. The nazareno is a tunic with a hood (conical tip) to hide the face of the participants or nazarenos. They carry processional candles or wooden crosses. To symbolise sin and penance they wear chains on the feet and walk bare foot on the street.
  • Pasos: Every brotherhoods or fraternities carry floats with sculptures called “Pasos”. The Pasos depicts various scenes related to the gospels of Christianity like the Passion of Christ, Sorrows of Mother Mary and many more. These “pasos” are created by different great artists. The Spectacular street procession is an integral part holy Week celebration.
  • Maundy Thursday: On the day before Good Friday, all the bells of the churches are tied and are open only on the day of Easter. It is done to mourn the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. To celebrate the resurrection, the bells are untied on the Easter Sunday.
  • El Viernes Santo: On the day of Good Friday, Catholics in Spain does not consume meat and generally consumes fish and vegetables. A garlic soup and a stew of cod, spinach and chick peas are very popular on the day of Good Friday.
  • Food during Easter: There are many traditional dishes that are very popular among the Catholics during the Easter. After the Lent of 40 days and mourning of Good Friday, it is on the Easter day that they consume meat. Few dishes are: el Cordero, Paella, Hornazos, Monas or cakes, Lechefrita or fried milk, Easter doughnuts or Rosquillas.

Holy Week in Spain is celebrated with full enthusiasm and vigour. The ways of observing vary from one corner of Spain to the other. One such place that is well known for the Holy Week celebrations is Leon. More than 15,000 penitents walk in the procession which starts on Friday before the Holy Week and continues till Easter Sunday. The procession is the most solemn one and continues for 9 long hours every day around the city. It is the “Procession de los Pasos”. Places like Lorca, Viveiro, Zamora and many more places have their unique ways of procession.

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