Holy Week –Semana Santa in Spanish- is by far one of the most important weeks of the year in the city. Regardless of one’s religious beliefs, this event is a social and cultural experience that you simply cannot miss out on. The mix of spring scents and pungent incense, people’s devotion and overwhelming emotions, the solemn music and colourful penance processions with its priceless artwork, everything adds to making this celebration one of the most impressive “live performance” you will experience in your life.
During an entire week, day and night, enormous thrones carried by hundreds of men re-enact the “Passion of Christ” making their way through the narrow streets of the city, accompanied by musicians and their roaring drums. Behind each throne, thousands of penitents and women dressed in traditional clothes for mourning.
These spectacular processions (around 40 of them) which are organised by different “brotherhoods” (hermandades or cofradías in Spanish), consist of at least two large floats, one carrying a Christ figure and the other one a figure of the Virgin. Both normally meet at some point in their itinerary, being the culmination of the route.
On occasions, the processions stop under balconies where an improvised devoted singer will break the deafening silence by singing a cappella a revered religious sacred song called a “Saeta” that will no doubt make you shiver.
Here’s the programme for this year’s processions: (14th to 21st April 2019)
Palm Sunday (14th April) – this tends to be the most cheerful day of the week celebrating the arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem with various processions such as the Pollinica, with its hundreds of children carrying palm leaves throughout the city.
Holy Monday (15th April) – this is the day when Our Captive Father Jesus (el señor de Malaga) comes out with his white silk robe, his hands tied, representing his arrest by the Roman forces.
Holy Tuesday (16th April) – Among several processions, do not miss out on the Virgin Las Penas whose cloak is made entirely of fresh flowers.
Spy Wednesday (17th April)
El Rico: the Christ figure is accompanied by a pardoned prisoner, recently released from a local prison, accompanied by the Police and the Virgin of Love.
La Paloma. White doves fly to and from the virgin while this procession walks through the city centre.
Maundy Thursday (18th April)
Cristo de Mena: this is by far one of the locals most popular procession: Legionnaire troops and their goat who have just arrived from Africa by boat accompany this Christ figure as they make their way round the city singing. La Esperanza: another hugely popular procession, this one has the heaviest float – the one carrying the virgin weighs 5 tonnes!
Good Friday (19th April)
All processions are solemn and mostly silent to salute the death of Jesus. Las Servitas: the most ceremonious of them all, the city lights go out as it parades in total silence through the streets.
Saturday (20th April) – this a time for rest and contemplation, there are no processions or events on that day.
Resurrection Sunday – Easter Day (21st April)
This is the last day of the Holy Week, representing the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the black and purple gowns are replaced by white and green to represent new-found hope.
Please note that Holy Thursday and Friday are public holidays in Andalusia; as a result, everything will be closed.