Semana Santa in SpainSalamanca, Spring 2012
This post is a bit delayed – Semana Santa (Holy week) is actually celebrated the week before Easter. Everywhere in Spain celebrates it differently, but Andalucia especially goes all out for this week. I happened to be travelling in the South of Spain at the time, and got to witness these Easter traditions in quite a few prominent cities (Cordoba, Sevilla, Nerja, and Granada).
During the entire week, grand street processions are organized each evening in most Spanish towns. They begin on Palm Sunday and continue until Easter. During these processions the cofradias, or religious brotherhoods, will carry pasos through the streets (statues of saints on floats or wooden platforms). Many will begin and end at a church, after making a route through the city that can last for several hours. Often they are accompanied by musicians or a band and people carrying banners, candles, crosses, or smaller religious figures.
The traditional dress for the nazarenos (penitents who walk along with the float) resembles that of the klu klux klan, as you can see in some of the photos below. However, their clothes are actually meant to depict the Nazareños, people from Nazareth.
The processions are often accompanied by a slow, rhythmic beating of drums or wailing of the ”saeta,” sacred songs sung during Semana Santa. The costumes, music, and solemnity of the crowd really help to build the atmosphere. The larger cities in Andalucia (Sevilla and Cordoba) attract thousands of people for these huge processions and week long celebrations. It certainly was an experience to witness these Semana Santa rituals in person in some of Spain’s most famous cities!
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