20 April 2019

Different countries, different traditions

Travellers going on a trip at Easter will have a lot of stories to tell. Easter traditions in Mallorca, Corfu and the Algarve are particularly interesting.

“Holy Week” in Mallorca

In Mallorca – as in all of Spain – travellers will experience numerous centuries-old traditions at Easter. In the island’s capital of Palma, the most important Easter procession is called “Sant Crist de la Sang“. It takes place on Maundy Thursday, with dozens of sculptures pushed or carried across the city by thousands of penitents. Overall, around 17 processions are held in Palma during Holy Week from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, performed by more than 30 brotherhoods wearing robes with long hoods with conical tips. On Good Friday, passion plays are performed in several cities in Mallorca, including a procession with re-enactment of the descent from the cross at Calvary Hill near the Pollença parish church or a re-enactment performed on the steps of Palma’s La Seu Cathedral. Mallorca’s hallmark is a special highlight, in particular at Easter – it is a showpiece of Gothic architecture. Mallorca also offers a lot of culinary Easter delicacies. The Balearic island’s Easter delights include “Monas de Pascua“, figures and sculptures made of chocolate. Typical Easter specialities also include “Panades mallorquines”, filled pies.

Across Corfu with Saint Spyridon

Easter in Corfu is a unique religious blend of Byzantine, Venetian and Greek traditions. Orthodox and Catholic Christians have jointly celebrated Easter since the Venetian rule. During the entire Holy Week, also called the “Great Week” in Greek, religious celebrations are held, in particular in the historic centre of Corfu Town. Bands accompany the great procession held in honour of Saint Spyridon, the patron saint of Corfu, with a magnificent shrine carried through the town. Saint Spyridon is said to have saved Corfu from the plague in the 17th century. On Holy Saturday, there is a unique tradition called “Botides“. Corfiots throw huge clay pots from their windows and balconies to celebrate the victory of life over death. The most important culinary Easter delicacy is roast lamb. However, Easter “Tsoureki” bread and the traditional “Koulourakia” Easter biscuits are also recommended. All Easter eggs in Greece are dyed red. Following resurrection, a local tradition is for people to crack Easter eggs together. The egg that does not crack is believed to bring its owner good luck all year.

“Cabrito“ brings families together in the Algarve

Easter is also a very important festival in Portugal with its predominantly Catholic population. Not least because families traditionally get together on Easter Sunday for meal of roast goat (“cabrito”). In many villages in the Algarve in southern Portugal, priests previously go from door to door, sprinkle people’s homes with “holy water” and bless each family member. Throughout Holy Week, processions – often accompanied by bands - take place in many villages, decorated with flowers. In the Old Town of Albufeira, visitors can watch the original “Lava pés“ ritual. A priest randomly picks a number of individuals from the crowd and washes their feet. Apart from “Cabrito”, Easter delicacies in the Algarve also include “Folar de Pascua”, a sweet yeast bread flavoured with olive oil, lard and lemon, anise or cinnamon, typically decorated with boiled eggs.