Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Semana Santa.....

Because we are not at home for Easter, and therefore not watching the Semana Santa (Holy Week) processions, I thought that I would share a some photos of previous years.  Although Spain is a Catholic country, the number of people who regularly attend Mass has declined considerably over the years, however when it comes to the Easter processions, everyone and his brother are there to watch the 'floats' go by.

In our town, Estepa in the Province of Sevilla, as in many towns throughout Spain,  the processions start on Palm Sunday.  The various 'floats' are carried by 'Brotherhoods' through the streets of the town and the 'worshippers' follow along behind the procession.  Different days 'belong' to different Brotherhoods and each Brotherhood wears a different coloured pointed hood and cloak, which often displays their 'coat of arms' plus a floor length tunic.  The floats are heavy and can be carried by hundreds of men on their shoulders and in most cases they are unable to see ahead and are therefore guided by someone who walks in front.  These men and the others, both male, female and children, who follow behind, are called Penitents, or Nazarenos.  I understand that the Penitents represent the followers of Jesus, but it's not really clear why their heads are covered.  I did read that it dates back to the Inquisition when the heads of the accused were covered with a sack.  It is also not unusual to see the Penitents marching barefoot....as an additional atonement for their sins.

Each procession takes approx 5 hours depending on the route.  Because of the weight of the floats they go at a very slow pace.   A person at the front walks along with a long pole which is used to push the electrical cables up above the height of the statues on the float!!

My favourite of all the processions is that which takes place on Monday night.  This is the Monday before Easter and not Easter Monday as it is known in the UK, which isn't a holiday here at all.  The Lunes Santo (Holy Monday) procession leaves the church of Santa Ana at 10pm and is referred to as a 'silent' procession.  Although the participants must not speak, in fact it is not totally silent as there is the steady beat from a lone drummer...I find it very moving.  It actually passes our front door at about 1.30am and it is amazing to watch several hundred Penitents passing by, many of them carrying very large heavy wooden crosses as an extra burden for their sins.

This photo was taken as the 'float' left the church.  The statues represent Mary, the Mother of Jesus, as she craddles her son in her arms.....

The following photos were not taken by me,  but they give a much better idea of the Lunes Santo (Holy Monday) procession in our town:  You can see the guys in front with the 'hooked' poles, these are used for lifting the electrical cables up above the statues as they pass....as mentioned above. 

Next time I will show some photos of the Penitents and one of the daylight processions.


  1. Dearest sweet Sharon, thanks so much for sharing some of the photos of how you celebrated Easter last year! They are so beautiful and interesting. :) Also thank you so much for your sweet kind words on my miss Vanilla!! I am so happy to hear you too own a Vainilladolly and she is a Miel!! Miel is also one of my favorite and i am looking for a tan miel or a Vainilladolly Miel. I am so happy to hear that your Miel has been with you 7 years now!! I would love to see her. Do you have a flickr account? Would be nice to keep in contact with you. Have a lovely merry happy mid-week and happy Easter! Love to you!!

    1. Thank you for your comment Jacqueline, I'm glad you liked the photos, and you are very welcome on your lovely Vanilla, she's so very pretty! Yes, I have a Flickr account and here is the link:
      Lunita, as my little Miel is called, can be found in the sets, I think she is on the second page of sets as she has been here so long!
      Please add me as a friend on Flickr and I'll reciprocate! Enjoy your day and I hope your Easter is wonderful too!
      Big hugs Sharon in Spain x

  2. I do so enjoy seeing and hearing about other countries traditions associated with the Feast Days. Easter being the most important of these in the Churches' calendar. (Not too sure though if I'd like to have my sleep disturbed at 1.00am with the sound of the lone drum beating as the silent procession walked by.)

    I remember one year celebrating Holy Week here in the UK before going on holiday to Cyprus and repeating the another Holy Week there a week later.
    Thanks for a most interesting post.

    1. Thanks so much for commenting Kendal, I'm glad you enjoyed it. I did mean to add more photos this week but haven't yet got around to it ... when we come to the coast I get so laidback that I'm almost horizontal and forget what I planned to do!
      Hugs Sharon x