You’ve probably heard or read before about Semana Santa (Easter) in Spain. But most information regarding this traditions focuses on what’s what, the characteristics or features of the processions and so on. I want to tell you about what surprises and fascinates me the most about Semana Santa: the passion locals have for it.
Most Spaniards consider themselves catholics but don’t go to mass or church, yet when it comes to Semana Santa, they show true devotion to the processions and most have a specific brotherhood they follow or donate to. But let’s start from the beginning.
Preparations come as early as October. If you take a walk out on the streets of Malaga, you may hear the bands rehearsing the music they will play during the processions. The same goes for the tunics the penitents wear, which are tailor-made so that the hoods fit perfectly and hold in place.
Something that always surprises me is that some brotherhoods have waiting lists of years to become a member, so people sign their children up early in life so that one day they may become a penitent or throne bearer of their devoted Christ or Virgin.
Now when the big week finally arrives, people flood the streets to see the processions. Seats especially located on the streets most processions go through are rented (Marques de Larios, Alameda Principal), so some fortunate ones may comfortably watch every single throne pass by. At a price ranging from 90€ to 150 € per seat for the whole week, some spend a big chunk of money to share that moment with their family.
The less wealthier ones take foldable chairs out to the streets hours before the processions pass by, to save a good spot to see their favourite Christ or Virgin. Now when the Virgins’ thrones pass by, you will hear many from the crowd shout out “guapa” which means beautiful. They yell it from the top of their lungs as if they had seen the most beautiful woman… Others may spontaneously sing a “saeta”, usually from a balcony, dedicating with all their heart a religious song to their most devoted Christ or Virgin.
I have see people in tears from the emotion a throne brings up, others desperately pushing people to make their way so they are able to touch a Virgin’s veils.
Semana Santa doesn’t leave anyone indifferent and it’s definitely something worth experiencing at least once in your life.
For more information on Semana Santa visit our previous post.