Want to Show Off Your Spanish Skills This Spring? Learn Colorful Easter Vocabulary!
Are you already feeling nostalgic about Christmas?
Or are you just ready to say ¡adiós! to the cold winter?
You need a new holiday and season in your life! And luckily for you, Easter and spring are just around the corner.
And what does this mean for your Spanish-speaking life?
It means there’s a whole new set of vocabulary to brush up on.
Whether you want to know how to talk about the resurrection, the Easter bunny or the little lambs running in a field, this is the post for you.
Essential Easter Vocabulary in Spanish
So when might you want to use this vocabulary? Well if you’re in a Spanish-speaking country over Easter time you’ll definitely want to know how to say ¡Felices Pascuas! (Happy Easter!), but you might also want to talk about other Easter-related things.
And if you’re in Spain over this time, definitely don’t miss the Semana Santa (Holy Week) processions. They are quite a sight to be seen. If you’re in another Spanish-speaking country, it’s also worth doing a little research to find out if there’s anything special going on for Easter. Many Latin American countries marked the beginning of Lent with carnaval, but some of them also mark the days around Easter with a special celebration too.
And there’s no need to feel left out if you’re staying at home—you can impress your Spanish-speaking friends with your Easter vocabulary, or even talk about Easter with the new friends you’ve made via a language exchange.
The Basics of Spanish Easter Vocabulary
Arguably the most important words you’ll need are Pascua (Easter), Semana Santa (Holy Week) and of course, ¡Felices Pascuas!
You’ll also probably want to talk about la cuaresma (Lent), which lasts for cuarenta días y cuarenta noches (40 days and 40 nights). Historically, during this time people were en ayunas (fasting). Estar en ayunas means “to be fasting.” If you have trouble remembering this, just think about the word el desayuno, which as you probably know, means breakfast. Just like in English, this word literally means “to stop fasting,” or “to break fast.”
The days related to Easter are:
- Miércoles de Ceniza (Ash Wednesday)
- Jueves Santo (Holy Thursday)
- Viernes Santo (Good Friday)
- Domingo de Ramos (Palm Sunday)
During these days, you might also hear the words ceniza (ash), ramos (palm) and la misa (mass). You can also talk about Jesús (Jesus) muriendo (dying) on la cruz (the cross) before la resurrección (the resurrection).
Semana Santa Procession
Semana Santa processions take place across Spain, although some cities have bigger and more famous celebrations than others. Probably the most well-known procession is in Sevilla (Seville), and the city is packed full of people for the days preceding and during Holy Week.
The procesiones de Semana Santa (Easter processions) vary greatly across Spain, but usually involve pasos, which are big floats that carry statues or representations or religious figures or religious imagery. Some depict the events leading up to the first Easter. These representations are also sometimes carried on large tronos (thrones).
These pasos are held up by costaleros (men who carry the floats). Other people also hold ciriales (professional candle holders or candelabrum), and as the procession takes place at night there are also lots of other velas (candles).
As well as the floats, people process through the streets. Many of these people are part of the hermandad (brotherhood), one of the most common is the Hermandad de El Nazareno, whose members are called nazarenos. The men in the brotherhood often wear costumes, which are capes with cone-shaped headresses called capirotes.
They may also have capuchas (hoods), antifaces (masks or veils) or capuces (part of the headress that cover their faces). Sometimes the members of the hermandad are penitentes (penants). To represent that they are repenting their sins, they wear cadenas (chains) around their ankles or wrists. Other members of the public also follow the procession and are also penitentes. Sometimes they also have chains and walk barefoot behind the main procession.
The crowd that follows the procession are called the bulla. Other people that are part of the procession are women wearing black clothing. The black lace they wear is called mantilla.
Music is part of all the processions, but the type of music that accompanies the paso is different depending on which part of Spain you are in. In some of the more traditional processions such as in Valladolid, there is a coro (choir) who sings traditional songs.
Other processions have a banda de música (band), while in the south of Spain, some processions such as the one in Malaga, are accompanied by a saeta (a flamenco-style song sung acapella). The procession in Malaga is known for being more joyful than some of the more sombre processions in other parts of the country.
Other words you may need to know are incensario (incense burner)—since you will be able to smell incense in the air—and the wooden beams which you may see being used to carry the floats are called trabajaderas. Some of the floats are designed so that you can’t see the people carrying them, and in this case they literally look as if they are floating, which looks rather impressive.
But let’s not forget that Easter also means that spring has officially sprung. There are some other words related to la primavera (the spring), which you may find useful.
First of all, you may want to comment on how beautiful las flores (the flowers) look. Or you might want to pick or buy un tulipán (a tulip), or even un ramo de tulipanes (a bunch of tulips).
You may also note that there are more corderos (lambs) in the fields, or perhaps you’ve even spotted a conejo (rabbit), which you may want to refer to as a conejito (little rabbit).
But if all you’re interested in is chocolate, don’t panic. Just because you’re speaking Spanish, it doesn’t mean that you can’t talk about huevos de Pascua (Easter eggs). You might even want to ask El conejo de Pascua (the Easter bunny) for un huevo de Pascua. Or you could try your luck with your friends or family if the Easter bunny hasn’t dropped in to see you lately.
If you’re in Spain, don’t miss trying the Easter treat torrija. It’s made from bread dipped in egg and milk, and then fried and topped with sugar or honey. To make your own torrija (it’s totally doable!), follow this recipe. You could even then try explaining how to make the recipe in Spanish to someone else.
You might also want to think about getting a cesta de Pascua (Easter basket). Note the difference between a feminine basket, la cesta, and a masculine basket, el cesto. A cesta is usually smaller than a cesto, so if you want an Easter basket that’s more laundry-basket sized, you could try your luck by asking for un cesto, as opposed to una cesta.
So there you have it! Now you have plenty of vocabulary to talk about Easter and spring.
If all of this Easter talk has got you wanting to see a paso for yourself, then definitely start investigating your next Spanish vacation. And keep practicing your vocabulary so you’ll be ready for next year. ¡Felices Pascuas!