Easter week in Spain is called “Semana Santa” which means "Holly Week" and is normally around March or April, every year is in different dates but around the same period of time. Easter week in Barcelona starts on Palm Sunday, we Catalans call it Diumenge de Rams or you will see it as well as Domingo de Ramos in Spanish.
Palm Sunday is the Sunday before easter week and there are parades and processions, it is the day Christians celebrate when Jesus was reborn and he was welcomed by people with palms and
If you are into processions although in Palm Sunday there are, most easter parades are on Good Friday, Divendres Sant in Catalan or Viernes Santo in Spanish.
In 2016 Palm Sunday was 20th March, Good Friday is on 25th March and Easter Sunday is on 27th March and of course, the festivity that most kids love is Easter Monday or Dilluns de la mona de Pascua, this year on 29th March, when a "cake" called mona is given to the godsons.
Good Friday and Easter Monday are public holidays in Spain, so most shops in Barcelona city and other cities in Spain are closed, something important to take into account if you are visiting the city in those dates. Restaurants and museums will remain opened, so it might be a good time to explore those while the city is enjoying the holiday.
Palm Sunday - Diumenge de rams
Palm Sunday is the day when we kick off Easter week as it is the first festivity of this time, although the true easter week starts the following Monday. Rams or Ramos means branches, and it is called that way because people go to the procession with their palms in hand to welcome Jesus rebirth, this is the history behind the celebration.
It is very typical to go there with the kids as they enjoy very much the celebration, boys have a palm called "palmó" and it is palm leaves all together in a shape of a stick and they push it to the ground making sounds with the palmó. Girls have a palma instead which is made with the same material, palm leaves but it is worked in a different way, are smaller than palmons and with shorter stems and intricately woven crosses.
Palmas and palmons are decorated with bows, one of the most famous ones is the "senyera" the Catalan flag ribbons and the girls palma have sweets or toys tied to the palm leaves. You can find stalls selling palmas and palmons outside Barcelona's Cathedral, on Rambla Catalunya or in Sagrada Familia, right in front of the monument is the market.
It is a traditional festivity more than a religious one nowadays, Godmothers are responsible for getting the palmas and palmons to their godchildren. It is time for taking care of Godchildren as on Easter Monday is the turn of Godfathers who in Catalonia bring the "mona" cake that is decorated on top with chocolate figures of all kinds, their favorite footballer in chocolate, a movie star, a singer or a cartoon or the typical one that has easter eggs on top.
All churches in Barcelona have Palm Sunday masses which include a palm blessing ceremony and all kids go there with their families to get their palms blessed, adults normally carry laurel branches instead of the kids palmas or palmóns.
If you are interested in attending the palm blessing ceremonies they start normally at midday, these ones are the most representative:
Palm blessing ceremonies
11:00 at Barcelona cathedral La Seu
12:00 at La Sagrada Familia church. Sagrada Familia closes from 9-15 during Palm Sunday Mass, so your visit to the monument needs to be for another day of your route if you are visiting in Easter time.
Good Friday processions
Good Friday is a public holiday in Barcelona and in the rest of Spain, so expect to see shops closed, but again restaurants and museums are opened and if you want to go on your last shopping sprint, Maremagnum shopping centre is partially opened.
During Good Friday there are processions organized, although those are not that popular among not religious people in the city. If you are interested in joining or watching a procession find our picks below:
Sant Agustí's chruch: 7.00 Iglesia de San Agustín, Plaça Sant Agustí, 2, Raval area, it is said to be a very nice procession with hundreds of participants and music as well.
- Sant Jaume's church: in Ferran street in the Gothic Quarter, the procession starts at 19.00 hours.
Easter processions Hospitalet suburb
The biggest Easter processions in Barcelona are in a Hospitalet de Llobregat, a city near Barcelona which can be reached by metro on blue L5. The story behind why in Hospitalet there are many more processions than anywhere else in the city is because in this area live many Andalusians, homesick with their big event processions in Sevilla and south of Spain. Because of that they started doing it in the city they live in, in Barcelona.
They do processions during the whole holy week in the important days to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, this kind of celebrations are more from the south of Spain as mentioned but if you want to taste a bit how it is like find below the meeting points and times for the processions:
Palm Sunday at Plaça de la Bobila: 11:00 Paso Cristo - La Borriquita (little donkey) and 18:30 Paso de Jusús Cautivo
Good Friday at Molí street: 08.30 Paso de Jesús Nazaren, 8:30 Nuestra Señora de los Dolores (Our Lady of Sorrows) and 21:00 Paso del Cristo de la Expiación (The Atonement of Christ)
Easter Saturday at Plaça de la Bobila: 20:00 Paso del Santo Sepulcro (The Holy Tomb) and 20:00 Nuestra Señora de la Soledad (Our Lady of Solitude)
Resurrection Sunday (Easter Day) at Plaça de la Bobila: 18:00 Paso Jesús Resucitado (Resurrection of Jesus) and18:00 Nuestra Señora de los Remedios (Our Lady of Remedies)
Easter Monday - Dia de la Mona de Pascua
Easter Monday is also the Day of the mona and in Catalonia is probably the most important day of all as Godfathers and Godsons meet for lunch and Godfathers bring the mona cake, a very expected moment for children and also adults. Who doesn't like a good chocolate cake once in a while?
So you get an idea of how much extent has the Mona tradition, in Catalonia more than 1 million mones are sold every year during Easter time. Families spend around 50 euros per mona, you need to think that there has to be a mona per kid in the house. You will see during that time in the window shops of pastry shops the chocolate part of the mona which goes on top of the cake base and is where there are the chocolate figures and the themed monas.
The mona tradition comes from the 15th century, so Godfathers have been giving out manos to God-children for a long long time. However, monas have not been always like they are nowadays,the traditional mona is very different, it has a round shape with a hole in the middle. The original mona is made with marzipan and hardboil eggs.
One of the funny things of this time of the year is to see the bakers compete to make the biggest and most spectacular Mona de Pascua of they year. The best ones are featured on TV, one of the hot topics is always the FCBarcelona monas with the children's favorite footballers on it.
A famous baker in Barcelona is Christian Escribà and as such on Easter week he has in his Escribà shop windows a wide selection of Easter monas of all kinds. He has three shops in the city, find the location below:
Gran Via Corts Catalanes, 546
Carrer de les Floristes de la Rambla, 83
Avenida del Litoral, 42