Semana Santa: Most-frequently-asked questions about Easter in Spain

You probably have heard about Easter in Spain: one of the most famous and important events of the year for Spaniards (especially in Andalusia). What they call ‘Semana Santa’ (or Holy Week), it’s an old-age tradition that is characterized by its brotherhoods’ processions in almost every city in Spain. 

In this article, I would like to answer the most frequently asked questions about Easter in Spain and I’ll explain to you why you should live this experience once in your lifetime. 

Also, if you want to know all the important information about this festivity, check this article out

1. What does Semana Santa mean?

The correct translation for Semana Santa in English is ‘Holy Week’, and it’s related to the whole Easter week, from Sunday Palm to Easter Sunday in Spain. 

2. What is Semana Santa in Spain?

As I mentioned before, Easter is, in Spain, an incomparable display of culture, music, religion, tradition and passion. It is a Christian tradition that celebrates the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. 

But, don’t confuse yourself by thinking this is a festivity only for believers, as the magnitude of this tradition is so big, that almost every Spanish person participates in one way or another.

One of the most characteristic features is the presence of ‘tronos’ – huge ornate floats that are carried through the streets of the city by hundreds of members of, what are called, brotherhoods (cofradías in Spanish). The thrones can show particular Bible scenes or Virgin and Christ images.

These cofradías or brotherhoods have their own tronos and they carry them through the streets on specific days during Easter week and with different itineraries. The parade is composed of thousands of believers that accompany the Virgin or Christ in its path to the church. 
Also, these processions are accompanied by marching bands playing religious and ceremonial music. The atmosphere that is created due to the tronos, the solemn music and the members of the brotherhoods, that call the Virgin ‘guapa’ (beautiful) and sing them Saetas during the procession, are simply breathtaking.

3. What happens during Holy Week (Semana Santa) in Spain?

The main celebrations are held on the streets, where the processions take to the streets and people from all Spain participate in them. If you are wondering which is the best place to enjoy Easter in Spain, let me tell you that every city has its particularities and beauty. However, the most important processions are in Andalusia, especially in Malaga and Seville.

Imagining the importance of Semana Santa that Spanish people refer to this week as ‘La Pasión’ (passion). It perfectly resumes what they feel about it: utterly and completely passion. 

4. When is Semana Santa in Spain?

Semana Santa is celebrated depending on the yearly calendar. In 2022, it will take place from Sunday, 10 April to Sunday, 17 April. 

What are the 7 days of Holy Week?

  • Palm Sunday (Sixth Sunday of lent) 
  • Holy Monday 
  • Holy Tuesday
  • Holy Wednesday
  • HolyThursday
  • Holy Friday
  • Holy Saturday
  • Easter Vigil
  • Easter Day

5. How long is Semana Santa in Spain?

Easter in Spain is seven days long, from Palm Sunday to Easter Day. The most important day varies depending on who you ask, as everybody has a ‘prefered’ day depending on the processions or brotherhoods they belong to. However, Holy Thursday and Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Day are the most known vigils.

6. What are Saetas and Mantilla?

Saeta is a religious song that is performed without the accompaniment of any instrument. These songs are normally used during Semana Santa processions, as there are signers waiting for the thrones in the balconies to sing to them. 

In Andalusia, the tradition of singing to religious images is very popular, and saetas are the most popular songs for this, as they mix religious verses with flamenco.

Trust me, it’s spectacular to see how every single person in the procession stops talking, the throne stops and the music ends, and the only thing you can hear is the voice of the women/men singing to the Virgin or Christ figure. 

On the other hand, we understand Mantilla in Spanish Easter,as all the women dress in the traditional Semana Santa costume. They wear everything black and the ‘mantilla’, which is a light black scarf worn over the head and shoulders.

Mantilla typical costume in Easter Spain

Easter in Malaga

Malaga’s Semana Santa is very popular in Spain and all over the world. During these days, the city is full of processions and you can breathe a mystique and solemn atmosphere in every corner. 

But, I advise you! This festivity is not for claustrophobic people, as all the city center become very crowded and you will find people literally everywhere. But, it’s part of the magic: find processions in every street and get yourself lost in this giddy atmosphere.

There are quite a few famous processions you can see, but I would highly recommend ‘Cristo de Mena’ procession, as it’s performed by a military parade (the military corps called ‘La Legión’). The sign their most famous song: ‘El novio de la muerte

Easter traditional food in Spain

Semana Santa traditional food is very well known all over Spain. As most parts of Spain is Catholic, four weeks before Easter (what they call ‘Cuaresma’), they ‘shouldn’t’ eat any meat on Fridays. That’s why there are a lot of delicious dishes in this period, as well as incredible desert.

The most famous dishes are: 

And, the desserts:

Are you planning to stay in Malaga?

If you want to stay in Malaga at Easter, don’t miss the opportunity to check out our light and spacious apartments in the city center. Enjoy Semana Santa as a local! 

Also, we want to give you a 10% discount for your stay!

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