Catalonia is a country with a wide range of customs and traditions.
Almost every month of the year there is a festivity to celebrate that makes us travel through time and relives some part of our historical and cultural legacy.
In this case, the beginning of Lent comes accompanied in some Catalan towns of a dramatic staging that has been representing since the middle ages in all Europe, the passions. These can be seen, normally, until after Easter.
The passions are a popular manifestation that are celebrated in the framework of Holy Week, which takes place in spring (date that changes according to the lunar calendar), is the most important festival of the Christian calendar as it commemorates the entrance to Jerusalem of Jesus, death on the cross and his resurrection. However, today it has become, rather, a festivity of a popular and non-religious nature.
One of the Catalan references of this tradition that is still maintained today is the Passion of Esparreguera and the " Dansa de la mort " by Verges. A unique show that you can not let lose and then we give you more details.
What do the passions represent?
The passions are a theatrical representation that narrates the life and death of Jesus Christ. These derive from a liturgical drama of medieval times, known as " mysteries ", which were celebrated by Holy Week. These mysteries represented passages from the life of Jesus and other saints.
Over time, the texts will be enriched, as well as the representation of these, and in this way the mysteries took on a more complex character.
Consequently, it began to be represented in the squares of the towns, instead of the church, and other people who did not belong to the clergy intervened, being then a popular representation.
Already entered the century XIV the mysteries became a great theatrical staging.
The passion of Esparreguera
The passion of Esparreguera (Baix Llobregat) is one of the oldest in Catalonia and, even today, it is still alive.
A letter is conserved, dated in the year 1611, where a villager of Sant Llorenç d'Hortons made known to his family members of Esparreguera that he would attend the passion.
So, it is a tradition with a huge past behind, which has a great impact, both on the citizens of the municipality, who are fully involved and transmit to the public facts that happened two thousand years ago, as well as the spectators who attend year after year.
Formerly and until the year 1860 it was staged in the town square. From then on, it began to be represented in a closed place.
There are two dates that indicate that near 1941 was held in the Ateneu. Until 1969, the grandiose theater designed by the patronage of passion was inaugurated, which has a capacity of 1800 people, and began to be represented in this new space until today.
The text, which tells the public life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, was written by Ramon Torruella in the year 1960 and is composed of 35 scenes divided into two parts, one is represented in the morning and the other in the afternoon. Therefore, you must have a whole day to enjoy this show that has all the ingredients of a unique theatrical production.
Between these elements it is possible to emphasize the music that accompanies the work and that is interpreted, in direct, by an orchestra and choral.
The singularity of the theatrical argument, as well as its temporary persistence, caused the Esparreguera Passion to be declared a traditional festival of national interest.
And its significance on a national scale is so remarkable that the Catalan Federation of Passions has located its headquarters in this municipality.
The Passion of Olesa de Montserrat
The Passion of Olesa is more than theater. It is an experience for young and old that will allow you to enjoy a tradition with almost 500 years of history taken to the stage in a modern way, and where impressive sets coexist with digital effects and scenes of intense emotion. Vibrate with music, enjoy the show and discover the talent and passion of an entire people.
The theater where La Pasión de Olesa is represented is, in addition, an imposing building that hides one of the biggest stages in Europe and has capacity for almost 1,500 people. If you wish, you can visit the representation finished.
The music of La Pasión de Olesa is the work of the composer Josep Maria Roma. The version that is felt during the show was performed and recorded in 1997 by the Symphony Orchestra of Vallès and Cor Madrigal, directed by Salvador Brotons.
The Passion of Cervera
The Passion of Cervera goes back to the year 1477 and is the only passion in the world that preserves a 1534 text in full format and written in ancient medieval Catalan. Given the historical and social importance, in 1969, the representations of La Pasión de Cervera were declared of public interest.
The success has been constant since then and, despite the fact that the text remains the same, the staging has undergone innumerable improvements: The artistic direction has professionalized, two lateral stages have been incorporated in the Gran Teatro de La Pasión that offer a vision spectacular with the total 40 meters of stage mouth.
Recently, special effects have also been introduced so that the spectator can enjoy a complete show in every way. All this and the collaboration of 300 people on the stage configure an agile and modern show, offering a spectacular and realistic view of the traditional representations of La Pasión de Cervera.
Verges, the Dansa de la Mort
In Verges (municipality of Baix Empordà), unlike the passion of Esparreguera. Only the ancient mysteries (passion) are represented on Thursday Danto. Although there is also the procession of the children on Holy Saturday, which is the same but for children.
Throughout the day of Thursday the citizens of Verges stage the life of Jesus Christ.
This work, like the passion of Esparreguera, is divided into two parts; The first representation takes place in the main square of the town and only those who have bought an entrance have access to it. And the second takes place when this first representation ends and everyone moves to the church, where later, the procession will begin and the work will be developed in different corners of the town.
Of this second part highlights the stage of the Dansa de la Mort (dance of death). In fact, it is the relic and the most important element of this tradition / festivity since it is the only dance of this kind that has been preserved in Catalonia.
The Dansa de la Mort is made up of ten people who communicate the message to those who attend the performance; five of them perform a choreography to the beat of the drums and are dressed in skeletons and the rest take care of the setting and wear black tunics.
It should be added that the Dansa de la Mort and, therefore, the procession of Verges fulfills very different characteristics to the passion of Esparreguera. Although the content is the same, it retains a more traditional structure.
It is said that the procession of Verges could date from the year 1347.
It was also declared a traditional festival of national interest in 1983.
The symbolism of the elements of the Dansa de la Mort
The dancers of the Dansa de la Mort carry instruments that are full of symbolism.
It has dishes with ashes that represent corruption and the disappearance of bodies, a clock that makes us reflect on the hour of death and the transience of life, a flag that represents the power of death and that nobody has an escape and finally, a scythe that collects the fruit of life when it has ended. All these elements want to transmit several messages.
One is that death always arrives and we have to be prepared, therefore, we have to be aware that pleasures are not eternal. And another meaning is that death does not differentiate ages, it is an equalizing power. We can die children, young or old.
Other Catalan Passions
Also, in other municipalities of Catalonia the Passion is staged.
You may also be interested in: Live the essence of the Passions in Catalonia 2024 | All the proposals for Holy Week in Catalonia 2024