Seven curious things about traditional Easter cakes

Chocolate, boiled eggs, brioche, featuring chicks and feathers, filled with fresh cream, vanilla cream or jam, ‘Mones de Pasqua’ are traditional Easter cakes and one of the dishes that delight people the most, particularly children. Here are some curious facts about this sweet cake, loaded with symbolism.

28/03/2024 10:59 h

Ajuntament de Barcelona

Easter Monday features a unique culinary element that children eagerly look forward to: la mona. Today’s Easter cake is a sweet dish that comes in various forms, from the most traditional versions to others that represent the latest popular children’s characters.

Today’s Easter cakes are the result of centuries of evolution, where various elements have combined and stories and customs have woven together. There are some curious facts and customs linked to Mones de Pasqua, such as:

The origin of the name

It appears the that the word mona could come from the Arabic word munah, meaning gift. Others claim the word could have Greek, Roman or Celt origins, but it’s something of a mystery!

The egg as a symbol of fertility

Tradition says the Easter cake is a synonym of celebration, whether religious or pagan in nature. It coincides with the arrival of spring, a time of splendour and fertility. To convey this idea, the egg traditionally takes a prominent place on top of the cake, whether hard-boiled or made of chocolate. These days chicks and feathers are often added, as elements relating to fertility.

As many eggs as years

For centuries, cake chefs had a custom of making sweet cakes with hard-boiled eggs encrusted in the surface for godparents giving them as gifts to their godchildren on Easter day. Little by little, these eggs were replaced with chocolate ones, with one for each year of age, with the child receiving one every year until they completed their first communion.

A cake in return for…

In many cases, before they received their cake, children would recite verses or a song in front of those present to earn the gift.

A curious thank you

It is also traditional to break the egg in front of the godparent or grandparent who gives the cake as a gift, a custom which makes much more sense if the cake is a traditional mona, with several hard-boiled eggs.

Traditional Easter sweets

In the same way that the cake takes different forms, with different ingredients and styles, it also has cousins typical of other Eastern regions: pà cremat, la tonya and bread with raisins and walnuts are all traditional versions of Easter cakes and sweets.

Passion for chocolate

Easter is a good moment to enjoy the chocolate works of art produced by cake chefs. Did you know it was a bakery in Barcelona that was the first to turn drinking chocolate into a solid product at the end of the 19th century?



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