Easter rituals include children hunting the chocolate trail of the Easter Bunny and in Catalunya, godparents giving godchildren their traditional “Mona de Pasqua”.
Beginners in Catalan would be right in thinking that this festive treat can literally be translated as “Easter Monkey”; however, the word “mona” actually exists in both Latin and Arabic, where it means gift or present. Dating back to the 15th century, this culinary delight originally took the form of a “tortell de brioix” (round brioche cake) and was inspired by the days of fasting preceding Easter Sunday.
The traditional shape of these cakes was large and circular, similar to that of a sizeable doughnut and it would often contain hardboiled eggs around edge. Nowadays hardboiled eggs have been replace with chocolate ones and a “Mona de Pasqua” can come in all manner of shapes and sizes.
Movie stars, footballers, cartoon characters and your very own personalised mona are now all readily available upon request. Although the baking of a cake has gradually been replaced by a chocolate sculpture, there are still aspects of this annual indulgence that have not changed.
It has always been the custom for a godparent to give a Mona de Pasqua to their godchild on Easter Sunday and this remains the same today. “La mona de Pasqua is a spiritual tradition unique to Catalunya. Each egg represents a year of life but they also embody the idea of birth, which is why they are given on Easter Sunday, the day Christ rose from the dead.”
Easter Monday in Catalunya is therefore commonly referred to as “el dia de la Mona” and in the past represented the day when families would go together to healthily eat and drink. Nowadays, the incredible designs and wonderfully edible sculptures make mones too good to eat. Easter and feasting just seem to go hand in hand, so whether you’re having a traditional circular cake or a modern, life-size chocolate figure of Messi: happy eating and happy Easter.