Semana Santa is a religious festival and one of Spain’s traditional festivals. It takes place in cities across Spain over Easter week. It is the annual tribute of the Passion of Jesus Christ to celebrate by Catholic religious brotherhoods. Fraternities perform penance processions on the streets of almost every Spanish city and town. It takes place during the last week of Lent, the week immediately before Easter.
History of SEMANA SANTA
The celebration of Holy Week relies almost exclusively on the processions of the brotherhoods or fraternities. These associations have their origins in the Middle Age. Still, a number of them had created during the Baroque Period, inspired by the Counterreformation (Catholic reformation). And also during the 20th and 21st centuries. A significant point in the history of the Semana Santa was 1521. When the Marqués de Tarifa returned to Spain from the Holy Land. After his journey, he institutionalized the Via Crucis (Stations of the Cross) in Spain. And from that moment on, this holy event had celebrated with a procession.
Over time, the observance of the Via Crucis eventually broke up into the various scenes of the Passion, with the incorporation of portable crosses and altars. From that time, views from the story of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ had told through a series of processions through the streets each year.
Today, Semana Santa have still celebrated in all the pomp and circumstance of 16th-century Spanish Catholicism in cities across Spain. Andalusian cities like Seville and Malaga particularly shine in this regard. Yet, for some, the “true Semana Santa” takes place in the region of Castile and León in cities like Zamora, Valladolid, Salamanca, Avila, and Segovia.
Though the style and mood of Semana Santa in Spain vary from city to city, the essential components remain the same. Each day there are several processions, one from each religious brotherhood in the city. They are made up of floats that are carried from their church to the town’s central cathedral and back again. Most brotherhoods carry two Pasos (floats), one with Christ and one with his mourning mother, Mary the Virgin. Each procession is different, and each has its particular followers. The presence of or type of music, the time of day, and the size of the church all factor into the crowds that follow these displays.
Floats depicting a scene from the Easter story have carried by ‘costaleros’ (like pallbearers) along a set route. They are followed by ‘nazarenos’ who are often carrying candles, torches, or wooden crosses. They wear traditional robes and conical hoods, which cover their faces. The exact colors and forms of these robes depend on the particular procession. The gowns had widely used in the medieval period for penitents. Some significant differences between Spanish regions are perceivable in this event with glamorous celebrations. Mostly, in the area of Andalusia, especially in Granada, Málaga, and Seville. At the same time, those of Castile and Leon see the more somber and solemn processions, typified by Semana Santa at Zamora and Valladolid.
Being a celebratory festival, the bars, cafes, and restaurants are filled with people. So as to celebrate in between and after the procession. The more famous food variety includes garbanzos con bacalao (chickpea and cod stew), garbanzos con espinacas (chickpeas with spinach), Buñuelos (doughnuts), Torrijos (similar to French toast) and in desserts: Arroz con Leche (rice pudding) and pestiño (fried, honey-glazed pastries)
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