Good Friday procession Perpignan

Good Friday  Procession of the Sanch in Perpignan

Well before Easter became the most important Christian holiday, the arrival of spring was celebrated, as a symbol of renewed life. During the month of April, and more especially during Easter week, the survival of certain ancient Catalan traditions is felt. They come from pagan beliefs, profane traditions and deep Christian beliefs.

Everything concerning the ceremonies of Holy Week and the Passion of Christ were codified centuries ago. Here in Catalonia there is a special atmosphere. The proof can be seen on Good Friday with the spectacular Procession of the Sanch in Perpignan. There is also a similar torchlight procession in the streets of Collioure and Arles-sur-Tech. As to the village of Bouleternère, the evening procession is celebrated on the Thursday before Easter.To the sound of thousands of bells, other processions also take place: theirs are joyful ceremonies. Thus the encounter of Christ and the Virgin on the morning of the Resurrection (Easter Sunday: the Procession of the Resurrected) can be seen in Céret and Ille-sur-Têt. It would not really be Holy Week in Roussillon without sardane dancing. On Easter Monday at one of the hermitages, the Catalans meet up to dance a few of the most beautiful sardanes in Roussillon while floating in the air is the aroma of the “cargolade” (little “grey” snails grilled on a barbecue), the Easter omelette made from the best Catalan products:”boudins” (black puddings), ventrèche (thickly sliced streaky bacon), sausage… as well as young fresh vegetables (such as crunchy artichokes…) not forgetting the flow of golden wine from the sunny vineyards and hillsides.

But Easter also means Easter eggs. Les “goigs dels ous” (literally the “Hymns of the eggs”), these popular songs are sung on Easter night. They mix the praises to the Virgin and the hospitable welcome received at each house when the singers go with their baskets and, on knocking on the door, ask for eggs and black pudding, the basic ingredients for their Easter meal.