If you are new in Barcelona you may be seen this week many little boys and girls wearing weird stuff: going to school in pajamas, wearing different shoes, … They are only following the Vella Quaresma advices. Who is this woman?
La Vella Quaresma, or Old Lady Lent, is a graphic representation of Lent, the days between Ash Wednesday and Holy Week. It use to involve strict self-discipline in preparation for Easter but it was years ago, when people was more believer, nowadays it is not so strict and it has become more pagan celebrated mostly in schools. La Vella Quaresma has 7 legs – which each one represents one day of the week-, carries a basket and a cod. She is often seen in popular printed images and she works like a calendar: her legs take us towards Holy Week. The ritualization and use of La Vella Quaresma has local variations, but there are always certain things in common. Each week we pull off or amputate a leg and at the end of the week she is burned and the cod buried.
Nowadays, even though the secularization of society means that Lent has lost its intensity, La Vella Quaresma keeps going strong and takes on new forms and celebratory practices.