La Mona de Pasqua
Easter is considered by the people as one of the most solemn festivals Christian year as the popular song says.
"The fifth festival
are the best of the year"
The early Christians called it "The Feast of all Feasts" or "The Solemnity of all the solemnities" as the considered it the sublime identity of the Son of God with the Holy mother church.
This feast incarnates the Holy Word by which He came to live among men, to redeem the human race and give back all that was lost through Adams sin.
The anniversary of this happening is celebrated every year with satisfaction and it is happiest, most brilliant day of all the year.
According to the Catholic Church Easter is celebrated precisely on the first Sunday after the full moon after the 20th of March and Lent.
Easter is the holiday which children look forward to because they receive a present of the traditional "Easter Cake" from their godparents, following an old tradition. The present is a cake of different shapes with boiled egg on top..
This cake is called "Mona" - monkey - because the say the first ones had the shape of that animal or put a monkey figure on top.
The tradition of eggs is because in almost all ancient countries, the egg was the symbol of the Creator a summary of all the things created. The Greeks and Romans offered them to their divinities when they wanted to purify themselves and they were served at funeral feasts to purify the souls of the dead.
In early Christian times with Lent and its Ecclesiastic discipline it was forbidden to eat not only meat and milk but also eggs. Because of this abstinence during that period there was an extraordinary store of eggs and to better conserve them, they cooked them or covered the shell with chalk to preserve them.
Christians continued giving the egg the symbolic meaning of the divinity to represent the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the decorated them with many colours. Red was the most common in remembrance of the blood spilt by the Redeemer on the cross. On Easter Saturday they took them to be blessed and give large quantities as a present to families and friends.
We must understand that this Easter custom is of very primitive origin and it represents the renewal of nature and giving presents of painted eggs or golden ones remembers the beginning of all things, an idea or belief that persisted in some European countries when the tradition was to began the year at Easter, motivating the tradition of giving presents in this festivity.
Still, the custom probably stems from the ancient Hebrews, who started the year at Easter in remembrance of their freedom from captivity which was for them the most important of their history. Since the Christians found in the Ancient Law similarities with the Law of Grace, they commemorated and practise certain religious ceremonies at festivals similar to the Old Testament. We know that the children of Israel made unleavened bread and cakes at Easter, using the first flour of the harvest.
They made presents of this bread to their loved ones.
So it is almost certain that these presents were the origin of what we call "the Mona", an appropriate word since the Latin "Munus" means gift or present and "the Mona" is eaten not by the person who buys it but by the person who receives it as a present.
The Muslims who once inhabited the kingdom of Valencia understood the word "Muna" to mean the tax that they paid for renting the land at certain times of the year, a tax which consisted in cakes, agricultural produce and boiled eggs.
The word "Muna" with time became "Mona" and the Moroccans still use these word.
This word means Easter present.
Once there was the tradition for the cake to have as many eggs as years of age of the God Son presented by the God Father, so showing the receiver's age. This continued until the boy or girl became of age. Traditions evolve and change and now the cakes have disappeared and Easter presents can be different objects.