This year we decided to travel to Seville to experience Semana Santa for ourselves, the Holy Week preceding the Easter weekend and WOW! What an experience it was.
Semana Santa was started in the 16th century by the Catholic Church and they decided to present the story of the Passion of Christ in a way that the lay people could understand. It consists of processions of penitents held in towns and cities all over Spain, with some of the largest in the Andalusia cities, especially Seville, where over 50,000 people participate in the marches. Floats depicting the story of the Passion, Crucifixion and Resurrection, some of which are centuries old and were designed by famous Spanish artists of that time, are carried through the streets. Each brotherhood or church carries a different float, accompanied by line upon line of “Nazarenos” or penitents dressed on robes with coned hats… it is thought that the origin of the hats dates back to the Spanish Inquisition, where wrong doers were made to walk the streets wearing a coned hat. In Spain, the style and atmosphere of the processions vary according to each city, in Seville, for instance, the religious parades feature spectacular flamenco performances, which are sung from the balconies in the narrow streets of the city.
We attended the Maundy Thursday processions which started early afternoon, some of which did not start until midnight on Thursday and did not finish until midday on Good Friday. We lasted until 3am!
The last photo shows a young boy collecting wax from one of the penitent’s candles, this seems to be a tradition with the children. It would seem that this tradition has been passed down from generation to generation as one of the balls we saw was at least 12cm in diameter!
The nazarenos, or penitents, also hand out religious cards, sweets and pendants, I was lucky enough to be given a pendant.
If anyone is thinking of attending this in the future, we would suggest wearing a strong comfortable pair of shoes as the streets are cobbled and you will be standing for several hours! It is one of the best experiences that we have had during our travels around the world.