As both Lent and winter have come to a close, we are now enjoying warm sunny spring days in Menorca for the start of Easter week. Such lovely weather was welcomed for the local festivities in commemoration of Palm Sunday, known in Spain as ‘Domingo de Ramos’.
In keeping with the international catholic tradition for Palm Sunday, a special mass was held in all the local churches around the island. Holy Week or ‘Semana Santa’ is the grandest and most reverant of the annual church celebrations in Spain. The processions that held during the week in many cities and towns are highly anticipated, emotional and spectacular events.
What distinguishes Easter processions is typically the costumes of the various brotherhoods that carry the religious statues which are normally beautifully adorned in flowers. The costumes typical of the brother and sisterhoods ‘Cofradías’ on Good Friday are long tunics with contrasting coloured sashes and tall pointed hats with attached full faced masks. Months of practice often goes into the preparation of the bigger processions, and the large and heavy adorned statues often change hands between bearers during the long journey.
Yesterday in Mahon, the town held its liturgical procession during the day where the ‘Confraternidades’ participated fully dressed in tunics, caps and masks.
In Ciutadella, other Palm Sunday traditions are observed with the blessing of the olive branches to the faithful (congregation). Once blessed the olive branches bring luck and harmony to the home when hung close to the front door.
The Sisters of Santa Clara every year maintain their tradition of Palm weaving, which is the art of taking the palm leaves and braiding them into intricate formations in a bunch for children. There are different designs for both boys and girls. They also hold a simple procession at the time of the mass surrounded by the people of the town.
‘Domingo de Ramos’ is only the start of the Holy Week celebrations, where processions and ceremonies mark each day of the week with Good Friday being the largest ceremony.