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Off topic: Holy Week in Spain
Thread poster: Maria Luisa Duarte

Maria Luisa Duarte  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:48
English to Portuguese
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Apr 3, 2004

A Happy Easter to all!

The name 'Semana Santa' is given to Holy Week in Spain. Platforms called 'pasos', carrying statues of Jesus and the Virgin Mary, are paraded through the streets.
It is in fact celebrated all over Spain from Domingo de Ramos (Palm Sunday) to Domingo de Resurreccion (Easter Sunday), though some smaller towns only have processions on Jueves Santo (Maundy Thursday) and Viernes Santo (Good Friday).

Major towns will have processions every night of Holy Week, each with their cofradias (lay brotherhoods) and penitentes (penitents), which incidentally have nothing to do with the KKK despite their pointed hats. The cofradias tend to have long important names such as Pontificia y Venerable e Ilustre Hermandad de Nuestra Madre y Señora de la Soledad y Sagrado Descendimiento de Nuestro Señor Jesucristo.

The procession is a serious affair and usually has two tronos (heavy religious floats) bearing valuable sculptures of the Virgin Mother weeping tears of jewels and of Christ, not always crucified. Preceding the pasos are hundreds of nazarenos - Nazarenes but just another name for penitents. They dress in long hooded túnicas (gowns) made of velvet and satin, and carry the flickering velas (candles) that leave the streets slippery with wax. Others carry luxurious sceptres.

Each trono is extremely heavy for the numerous throne carriers underneath who have to carry it along the route of the procession. In Seville and Jerez thet are called costaleros, in Malaga simply hombres de trono. In addition to the the valuable religious image, the trono has a lot of silver candelabra, aromatic flowers and richly embroidered robes which sway as the float creeps along its ritual path.

The processions are long-winded, so the brotherhood organisers set up tribunas (stands) where you can sit and watch for the price of an abono (season ticket).

Music is important in the procedure. Bands of bugles and drums play marches and the procession stops at key points for a solo religious song: the saeta. The saeta (literally arrow to the heart) is an emotional cry and sung in the street. Its plaintive laments echo through the streets making us live and feel the Passion, Death and Resurrection of our Lord.

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Gilda Manara  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:48
German to Italian
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I was there once... Apr 4, 2004

Hi Maria Luisa,

thanks for having posted your description. I was lucky enough to be in Spain - oh, so many years ago - during the Holy Week and see one of these processions in Madrid, as well people visiting the churches in Toledo - something I will never forget. I was afraid that these traditions would have slowly faded out with time, but from what you say it seems as it is not so, and this encourages me to plan another visit to Spain during the same period.

Happy Easter to you too!


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