Pascua, Palms and processions: Easter in Spain

Greetings from Spain, where it’s semana santa (Holy week) this week.  Most of the other regions in Spain have school holidays now, so at work we’re reminding each other that we’ll be the ones laughing next week, especially because our timetable means that we make the most of the fiestas (bank holidays) on Thursday and Friday because they’re not already part of our time off. We have to take advantage of our fiestas, since we have so few..!

At school we’ve been decorating the classrooms in aid of Easter and spring. In my first years’ classroom there are enormous sheep, which are bigger that some of my students! They recently did a project on Greek mythology, which goes some way to explaining as to why one sheep is being head-butted by a minotaur!

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The word for Easter is Pascua, but everyone seems a bit confused when I ask them if they’re looking forward to it, because Easter Sunday isn’t celebrated any more than Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday or Good Friday. On these four days there are huge processions. People follow statues of Jesus and Mary as they are carried around town, and cry. I must have looked surprised when the students explained this to me because they asked if I was shocked by the devotion, but I returned the favour by telling them it was because people don’t really cryas much in public in the UK. Or scream, or make out. They must think I’m really boring!

Easter (not the Sunday, but in general!) here involves a lot more religion and a lot less chocolate. I went to the supermarket to buy Easter eggs as the prize for the egg-hunt I organised for my youngest class ( most of the students had never done one before, cue much excitement and chaos!), but they’re not traditional and so are not sold here. I had to make do with Kinder miniatures, and didn’t receive any complaints!

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Whilst I was I was on my doomed search, I did come across some other Easter gear. The ordinary supermarket sells strange sorts of driedpalm “wands” to wave at the procession.I took this photo on Saturday so there are only the dregs left:

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I have to admit that I didn’t go to the procession on Sunday, although I did plan to! I slept in, and don’t have much of a defence; I’m twenty and it was a Sunday – I bet no one’s surprised! I’m really sad to have missed it but on the other hand, I think that watching people crying in the street might have been a step too far in terms of cultural appreciation  for the Brit abroad! I feel fairly uncomfortable when I see children doing it!  It doesn’t make up for my laziness at all, but the procession waswell documented in the regional newspaper (inventively named “La Rioja”), which is where I got this photo from:

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It’s been really interesting to learn about another culture’s Easter celebrations, but I am really looking forward to getting home and tucking in to a hot-cross bun!


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