For the end of Semana Santa, I was back home in Barcelona. Although Spain is generally a religious country, Catalonia is the least religious region so Easter here isn’t like it is in Seville for example. They have grand processions during Semana Santa, churches are packed, and festivities last from Palm Sunday until Easter Monday.
Here in Catalonia, Easter was a bit different. My host family are practicing Catholics, so they went to Easter Mass on Sunday but we did not all celebrate the holiday until Monday. Easter Monday is also considered a holiday here, most of the shops, restaurants, and stores were closed. I asked my host sister and she said it just depends from family to family when they celebrate Easter, either Sunday or Monday. I’ve never come across Easter Monday being a big deal in the US, so that was something new to experience!
On Easter Sunday, Alyse & I woke up and went to Easter Sunday mass at Basílica Santa María del Mar, a huge church located in the Gothic Quarter. We’d been there once before and knew it’d be a beautiful place to spend Easter Sunday. We went to an international mass, so Spanish, Catalan, French and English were spoken at different points in the service. Luckily the message was in Spanish, so I could easily understand what was going on! Catalan (the regional language of Catalonia) is a mix of Spanish and French, but I think it’s more French. When I hear it I can recognize specific words, but that’s about it. Europeans always impress me with their ability to change languages immediately…within the conversation even. In the United States it’s impressive if you speak more two languages, here it’s average. I was mesmerized by the priest’s ability to speak all four languages so effortlessly.
After mass, we headed to a local bakery to pick up cinnamon rolls that happened to be fresh out of the oven…lucky us! For the rest of the day we wandered around Barcelona enjoying the perfect weather. We both talked about how weird it was to be away from our families and the traditions we usually participate in. For example, in Spain they don’t dye eggs (although fun fact, they do in Germany) or have egg hunts. The Easter bunny really isn’t a thing either, instead they buy sculptures of chocolate…which brings me to Monday.
We had school off on Monday too, thank goodness! I finally visited the inside of the Sagrada Familia, what perfect timing to do so. It was unreal, you could just stand there and look up for hours. I like to pride myself on my attention to detail, but Gaudí wins the prize hands down. Everything and I mean everything has a purpose: the shape of the columns, the order of the tower heights, even the way he sculpted the story of Jesus he did on purpose to create shadows on the faces of the characters. The pictures I took cannot do it justice, it’s something you have to see for yourself. I would love to come back in 2030 (estimated completion date) to see the finished product, it’ll be breathtaking. Also, for those of you who go, you have to go during the day so the sun streams through the stained glass windows. Trust me, it’s incredible.
After the Sagrada Familia, I got lunch with a friend and we wandered around Barcelona. The weather is a sunny 70 consistently, so every time I can get outside I do. We headed back in the late afternoon for our host family’s Easter celebration. The extended family was all invited for a merienda (afternoon snack) of traditional desserts and of course, chocolate!
Instead of the Easter bunny or something like that, scenes or eggs made of chocolate are common. For example in the picture you can see a Star Wars scene where R2D2 and the other characters are made of chocolate. My host mom got us our own chocolate eggs too, how sweet! The little kids love when it’s time to break the statues/eggs. They hit them until they break and then everyone shares the chocolate, and man was it delicious. We had gotten to know some of the extended family and it all hit us when we had to say goodbye that it was more or less permanent. As the time is winding down, my roommates and I are definitely getting sentimental about all of the “lasts” we’re experiencing. We spent the evening (much to our host brother’s disgust) painting our nails with our host sister and talking . Pretty stereotypical, yes, but it was so much fun because we’ve created our own little family. I just can’t believe I’ll have to say goodbye in just a few days…