Easter is an intense experience in the counties of Girona. Many towns celebrate festivals, all of religious origin, in which residents participate enthusiastically. Some have been declared Heritage Festivals of National Interest due to their cultural and historical importance, such as the Living Stations of the Cross of Sant Hilari Sacalm or the Procession of Verges.
In Sant Hilari Sacalm, the Living Stations of the Cross brings together the Passion of Christ and the popular fervour for processions. All 14 Stations of the Cross, including the judgement of Jesus by Pontius Pilate and the Crucifixion, are enacted along the route, making this a truly moving event.
The Procession of Verges, composed of a series of theatrical performances, has taken place since ancient times, with documentary evidence of it dating back to 1666. The procession begins after the first performance in the main square (Plaça Major), which ends with Jesus being condemned to death. Towards midnight, the scenes of Christ's journey to Calvary are represented along the streets of Verges in semi-darkness, lit only by burning torches and a series of snail shells turned into oil lamps on Carrer dels Cargols (Street of Snails). One of the high points of the procession is the eagerly awaited Dance of Death, one of the most important symbols of the town and its popular culture, performed by five skeletons leaping to the sound of a drum.
In Girona, you can also enjoy a celebration that dates back to at least the mid-18th century. On Maundy Wednesday and Good Friday, a group of Roman soldiers called the Manaies of Girona parade solemnly through the streets, striking the ground with their spears in time to music. Legend has it that this tradition began on the night of Jesus' death, when Pontius Pilate sent a garrison of legionaries to check whether the Messiah had risen from the dead.