A Glimpse Of The Catalan Holy Week
The Holy Week for Catalans ends up with a very sweet taste in our mouths. It may be that Lent is not as much celebrated as it used to be in the past with the forty-day period of fasting, prayer, and penance before Easter Sunday or Resurrection Sunday.
Now the bustle of everyday life has altered this liturgical practice, we are more practical, worldlier. In Spain in general and Catalonia in particular, we consider ourselves a non-confessional territory (or giving a more academic significance, the vast majority of us do not ascribe to any religious affiliation) and as a result, leaving a little aside the original meaning of Lent, we maintained at least some of the pleasures of it.
We have borrowed from Latin, Greek and Hebrew the term used to denote the end of the fasting of Lent: Easter. What often hears and reads like Easter Sunday, is originally Resurrection Sunday, as we said at the beginning of these lines, the third day after the death of Christ when he resurrected.
Well, apart from all the evangelical meaning, in Catalonia we have managed to maintain if not hundred percent worthy tradition of Christian purgation, we’ve saved a very sweet tradition of liberating the evils and worries of everyday life. We take the Holy Week to unwind from job and daily hassles and get our batteries recharged with joy and peacefulness.
We celebrate the family reunion, as we do at Christmas. In many of our Catalan towns (and in the big cities too!) we start on Palm Sunday –the triumphant arrival of Jesus Christ to Jerusalem- by standing in front of the churches with our palms in the air blessing the Son of God in what it was to become the beginning of an end. And like then, we reproduce the passion of Christ with miscellaneous stealthy but very emotional processions.
One procession we are highlighting here is in the old town of Barcelona: La Burreta. This one commemorates Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem riding a donkey. Children bring their palms on which they have tied small bags of sweets or toys and decorated with Catalan Senyera ribbons.
We can say as well that the most awaited night is Maundy Tuesday (the Thursday falling on the Thursday before Easter). Because of its age and its emotional value, we recommend the Badalona procession (a city located at 12km from the Barcelona center). The capture, crucifixion, agony and death of Jesus is depicted in this procession in utter silence and under the sole and soft glow of candles lying on windowsills, balconies and sidewalks of the streets of Dalt district.
The next morning is already Good Friday. Solemn Via Crucis and sepulchral silence for Jesus has died. Now we move to the North-east of Catalonia, in the town of Bellpuig (in Urgell region, located in the province of Lleida).
In this town of about five thousand inhabitants, it is celebrated the feast of Mare de Déu dels Dolors (Our Lady of Sorrows). It starts on the Friday before Good Friday and gives the go-ahead to the religious ceremonies of Holy Week in the regions of Ponente. In addition, it claims to be one of the oldest in Catalonia, since it has more than 300 years of history.