Buenosss a todos… I hope you have all enjoyed your New Year and have had a great start to 2017. Now the year has got well underway and we’re back in motion with blog writing, brace yourselves for some info on the Spanish festival that I’ve chosen to share with you, and that’s the ‘Semana Santa de Sevilla’, (in English known as the Holy Week in Seville). According to the Spanish, this is maHUUUsive here.
Semana Santa de Sevilla.
This week is very special in Sevilla, and is held in such a high regard. Many of the traditions here have been copied in many other parts of the world, however the cities of Málaga and Cádiz formed their own customs and traditions centuries ago, which still exist today.
The whole Easter week is based on representing and commemorating the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. 60 ‘hermandades’ (brotherhoods, as we would call them), gather together in the street in a large procession towards the city cathedral. Together with the ‘Feria de Abril’ (April Fair), which follows two weeks later, it is one of the city’s two biggest annual festivals.
If you have a look around some images on the internet, you’ll soon see the masses of people that come to celebrate this week, and the processions of the ‘pasos’ (floats of lifelike wooden scultpures containing scenes of events or images of the grieving Virgin Mary).
I’ve found an official website here containing lots of information, which definitely would be worth a visit!
They also have the ‘calendario’ for all of the future Easter weeks and key dates of the celebrations there up until 2050, so maybe in a few years once you start drawing up your bucket lists, you know exactly which days will have everything going on!
If you cast your eyes over the ‘Itinerario Oficial’ it explains the layout of the whole week, with processions throughout the day and at different times.
Here is the layout of the week, but if you could look into it a little, try and find the activities of each day, and the reason behind them.
Viernes Santo (Madrugada = early morning)
Domingo de Resurrección
Throughout the week there are many processions, each of which contains up to three ‘pasos’. The ‘pasos’ are reflective of Jesus Christ and tend to be figures of wood, wax and wire to represent scenes from the Passion, and usually are covered in gold. Similarly, there are ‘pasos’ reflective of Virgin Mary, which are usually covered in silver, showing her crying, cradling her son in her arms.
So, who organises the processions?
The ‘hermandades’ and ‘cofradías’ (religious groups and brotherhoods) are the main organisers for the event. The members dress in robes and ‘capirotes’ (tall, pointed hoods with eye-holes) for the processions. This does remind me of the dementors off Harry Potter, but thankfully they aren’t as dark and gloomy! The reason for this, was so that people could repent their sins without being recognised as a sinner. Scary stuff, right?
What are in the processions?
Nearly 70 ‘cofradías’ (church brotherhoods) take part, bringing their own image to create colourful bible scenes and beautifully decorated ‘pasos’ (large floats as I mentioned before). There are usually a variety of brass bands and various communities that come to the occasion. Sometimes for those who have come from more rural churches, it can take up to 14 hours for them to return to their home church. If I’m honest, I don’t know how they manage it because after a walk to my lectures here, I’m ready for a sit down.
Holy Thursday is the highlight of the week, when the processions will soon be arriving to the cathedral on the morning of Good Friday. This is the biggest and most popular day of the week.
¡Music para todos!
Some processions have no musical backing, however there are many with acapella groups (which if you’ve seen Pitch Perfect, will definitely be something you can relate to – not that I’m promising Rebel Wilson will actually be there…!). Other processions also have drums, brass bands, hymns and plenty more.
As each procession leaves its home church, (an event known as the ‘salida’), at its return (the ‘entrada’) along the way to the cathedral, many flamenco-style songs may be played by locals in the crowd or from their balconies. These songs are generally called ‘saetas’ (arrows).
Whenever the images depart or arrive at their home churches or chapels, the national anthem ‘Marcha Real’ is played. Have a listen to the video with Spanish/English lyrics and see what you think!
What kind of audience does this festival attract?
I guess you may all be thinking that this kind of event would just be for religious believers, but in fact the event and the whole week attracts people from many different places and backgrounds. There’s a great amount of Sevillians, (saying Sevillian civilians is just too awkward!) national tourists, both religious and non-religious followers, also with many foreign audiences and ALL ages too!
Well, there is your taster for some Spanish festival culture, and as I’m sure you’ve all heard of the ‘siesta and cerveza’ lifestyle, Sevilla should definitely be somewhere you all look to visit for the future…. As I’m still exploring my local town of Ciudad Real, I’ll keep you posted on some of the greatest things to see. Look out for the next post!