Easter in Fuerteventura
An Article by Bernie Power with The Voice Fuerteventura
Easter is an important religious event which is celebrated all over the world. It is a time steeped in tradition, many of which vary from region to region and some that date from before Christ.
Although many of us connect Easter with the resurrection of Christ, the origins of a lot of the traditions we enjoy nowadays date back a lot further into history and to a time we now call ‘Pagan’ times, and are centred around the rebirth of the world, after the long darkness of winter.
Easter Eggs & Bunny Rabbits
During Pagan times, Oestre was worshipped as the goddess of fertility and the symbols of bunny rabbits and eggs are attributed to her and used to represent spring approaching. Easter is a movable feast and occurs on different dates every year. It usually falls on the first Sunday after the full moon in Spring, which is sometime between the end of March and the end of April. It follows 40 days since Pancake day or Shrove Tuesday and was a time when people would fast, abstain from eating fat and give up certain favourite treats for 40 days in order to cleanse their bodies, readiness for the Holy Celebrations.
Why is it called Good Friday?
The week before Easter Sunday would also be a time for preparing for the Passion of the Christ, which begins on Palm Sunday which commemorates Jesus Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem and includes Maundy Thursday, when Jesus washed the feet of the poor, the last supper, his betrayal, and his arrest. The Friday is known as Good Friday and is the day that he was beaten, made to carry his cross and then executed. So why it is called ‘Good’? There are two theories. Good was often used to describe a period which was deemed Holy or of special religious significance and should be celebrated by the Church. The other theory suggests that the phrase is a corruption of “God’s Friday.” Following Good Friday is Easter Sunday, the day that Jesus rose from the dead and after forgiving our sins, took his rightful place in heaven.
Spain makes a big fuss of Holy Week or Semana Santa and the celebrations do last a whole week. Many families take the opportunity to visit each other and get together for the festival, which although deeply religious, is a bright and rich spectacle. Some churches here have processions and parade images or effigies of Mary, Jesus and the last supper through the streets. Traditionally each village would do its own thing, as distances and lack of roads in the past, made it difficult to travel. But once you were with your family and friends, churches would soon fill up and still do so today. Obviously chocolate eggs were never on the menu here, but they still had gooey, sticky treats to enjoy which signalled the end of the feast including honey, sugar, donuts and a million calories! There are also three bank holidays.
One of my favourite legends for Easter is the first sighting of the mysterious 8th Canary Island in 615 AD, by a band of 14 monks who were led by St. Brendan from Ireland. While searching for the isles of happiness, they landed on a small island, to the west. They were so amazed by the island’s natural beauty and abundance of vegetation they prepared to say Mass for Easter. During the preparations, the island started to shake and rock, and in terror, the monks fled, only to see the island disappear in front of their eyes. Later the island was named San Borondon (St Brendan in Spanish) and over the centuries, has often reappeared and has even been added on early maps from around the 1600’s. It was also photographed in the 1950’s. So, this Easter time, don’t forget to look west, as you never know what you might see!