In Seville, they take Holy Week very seriously. Every day, at different times during the day, there are parades, and here is what usually happens for each parade:
Groups of nazarenos in robes with pointed hoods (if you see them, don't freak out, they're not the KKK!) holding candles exit the church the parade comes from. Some of them walk barefoot and many of them also have a small basket of candy to give to children. Then, when it's time for the float to come out, it is carried from underneath by a group of guys who have been training for months to do this, and a marching band behind them plays music. The first float that comes out is a scene from Jesus' Passion, and the second one is a statue of Mary wearing fancy embroidered robes. When the floats come out, the music stops, the whole crowd goes silent, and a man on a balcony nearby starts singing a saeta (devotional song). When he stops singing, the float jolts up which means it's ready to go again (the guys carrying it suddenly lift it up at once) and the band starts playing again, and the parade continues through the streets of Seville all the way up to the Cathedral and back. After it's over, there is candle wax all over the streets where it passed, marking the path they took.
The smell of incense impregnates throughout the Sevillian streets, the milk-toasts don’t stay in the shop windows of the bars and restaurants for too long and, each citizen, prays to the clouds in the sky that at least, during these seven days, to wait for their time to cry. Waiting all year long for the rain to steal away the hopes of so many kids and adults.
From Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, approximately 57 brotherhoods leave from their chapels. Plaza de la Campana (Bell Square), Sierpes Street, San Francisco Square, Constitution Avenue, this is the Official Route that the processions must continue once they make way to their destination: the Cathedral of Seville.
When the processions of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary parade though Seville a lot of people feel their souls shudder. The bearers, covered by the big drapings that hang from the fraternity’s religious floats, carry it over their shoulders, with love, devotion and tenderness, and a calm and rhythmic march.
The penitents hand out candy while propping the hood that covers their face with the palm of their hands. The music, like a backdrop, moves with the dance of the float as it captivates the crowd.
One of the most awaited days is Holy Friday, also known as madrugá (dawn), where prominent fraternities come out like El Silencio (The Silence), which in his first image represents Jesus bearing the cross on his shoulder, in an inverse position as the usual one; and the canopy float, which shows Our Lady of Concepcion accompanied by Saint John, under a canopy. This Brotherhood leaves the mark of its silence as it advances through the streets of Seville.
Also on this day, many wait for the arrival of Jesús del Gran Poder (Almighty Jesus); with this image of the Lord: golden, illuminated by lanterns of gold-plated silver. And how about Esperanza Macarena Brotherhood’s float, that wins your heart over with its presence alone!; or the one of Esperanza of Triana, that makes you cry when its bearers sway her by the bridge of Seville that her name...
To witness a cofradía is relatively easy: the processions are held throughout the city and along any point of the marked route one can approach a float to contemplate and enjoy the "Paso"
Seguir una cofradía es relativamente facil: las procesiones se desarrollan en la ciudad y se puede acercar al recorrido para contemplar el "Paso" en cualquier punto de la ruta.
Holy Week is an important event for the Catholic Calendar. In addition Seville used to have an important representation from 16th century. From that time Jesus's Passion is represented by ussing portables Crosses and Altars, called "Pasos".
La Semana Santa es un importante acontecimiento en el calendario católico. Además en Sevilla se realiza una importante representación desde el siglo XVI. Desde este momento la Pasión de Jesucristo se representa a través de Pasosque representan a Jesús y a la Virgen María.
If there's something similar to a spiritual capital in the south of Spain, it might be close to Sevilla. You can tell that by the size of the city cathedral, or for the countless churches that configure Sevilla's urban landscape. But more that just visit the beautiful churches of Sevilla looking at the statues of the virgin, at the ceilings, at the architecture details, I would recommend you to pay close attention at the devotion of the people that use those temples. They live their religion in such a passionate way that it's unlikely they would leave you indifferent.
During the Holly Week, Sevilla transforms itself into a human river of religious processions; during those holly days, dozens of cofradies carry out their images over the city, a spectacle followed with fervent devotion by the attendants.
If attending to those processions is an absolutely fascinating activity, it is not less impressive to realize with how much anticipation the cofradias (the people that take active part in the processions) rehearse and test their strength. These rehearsals had nothing of trivial, as the images weigh several hundred kilos. So during many weeks before the Holly Week, is not unusual at all to witness the cofradias caring out the same weight over the streets of Sevilla by night.
Semana Santa is the Holy Week just before Easter day. You'll be able to catch different processions (as many as 8!) each day with a duration of at least 5 to 13 hours - which includes:
- El Christo (Float of the Christ)
- La Virgen (Float of Virgin Mary)
- La Macarena (lots of music)
- El Silencio (a procession with a sombre serious feel to it).
The Holy week is an experience to live in Andalucia, but also in the north of Spain, each city or province has a diferent style (I am talking about culture and arts... and folcklore not religious meaning)
Sevilla and Malaga are he best ones in Andalucia with diferent styles, (each city says theirs is better lol)
Also the ones at north as Valladolid deserve a visit
Semana Santa processions include young and old. This young boy was waiting patiently to join the the Paso to leaving his Church