Easter in Barcelona – From traditions to chocolate
Maybe the most important and significant day of Easter is Palm Sunday. In the Gothic Quarter there is a procession known as La Burreta, or ‘Little Donkey’, that commemorates the return of Jesus to Jerusalem. Children bring their palm leaves in anticipation of getting them blessed with holy water, and some of them even hide sweets and toys within their intricate designs. Olive and palm leaves are also hung from doors as they are said to give protection from evil forces.
Though the Sunday procession is one of the more lively and therefore more well-known celebrations, there are also two other famous ones that take place on Good Friday, which are Nuestra Señora de las Angustias (Our Lady of Sorrows) and Nuestro Padre Jesús del Gran Poder (Our Lord Jesus of Great Power). These processions are all concentrated to pass through Las Ramblas and the Gothic Quarter.
As Christian tradition dictates, meat is not to be eaten on Good Friday, which is why those taking part in the Easter celebrations in Barcelona eat cod on this day. There are various ways to prepare it, for example cod with sanfaina (a ratatouille of sorts) or esqueixat (raw and shredded). Cod is one of the main ingredients used in typically Catalan dishes, and during these celebrations it becomes a traditional dish.
When it comes to sweets and desserts, in addition to the typical easter eggs you’ll find around the world, Catalonia has its own thing called La Mona de Pascua. It’s a time-honoured easter dessert that started off as a cake decorated with cooked eggs, ribbons, and hand-made chicks and adornments. Today they incorporate well-known characters from children’s popular culture. Custom has it that the godparents gift the Mona to their godchildren on Easter Sunday, but these days everyone goes and buys one as early as Palm Sunday or even earlier.
What started off as a cake from Arabic and Roman conventions has turned more into an art-form these days, with cake-shops and bakeries building complete scenes from popular culture out of chocolate. There are some amazing works of art that you can enjoy simply by visiting these locales during this time of year.
There are also other sweet treats like pestiños — fried pastries with sugar and honey — and the more local Bunyols de Quaresma, which are fried balls of dough sometimes served with cream and chocolate fillings.