Thursday, 29 March 2018

Easter in Spain

Locally known as Semana Santa (Holy Week), Easter is the most important celebration in Spain, and stands out for its epic elaborate processions and unique, age-old traditions specific to each region. The atmosphere that characterizes the festivities is usually solemn, the picture spectacular, and everything seems fully immersed in emotion. 

Like everywhere in Spain, the festivities begin on Palm Sunday (Domingo de Ramos – this year it’s on 9th of April) and last until Easter Monday (Lunes de Pascua), with the most dramatic and passionate parades held on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.

Although each Spanish region, and even city and village, has its own particular customs and practices during this time of year, Semana Santa celebrations are nowhere else as elaborate and spectacular as they are in Andalusia, the sunny south of the country. Here, the most important Catholic holiday is commemorated with a week full of color, art, religious fervor, and extravagant processions. The most spectacular events take place in Malaga and Seville, where the streets are taken over by flamboyant parades and intricate religious displays depicting biblical scenes.

In Malaga, Semana Santa is celebrated with various religious and military parades accompanied by live marching bands, inviting incense, and floral scents, as well as lots of colour and cheer.

One of the most distinctive features is the presence of tronos – huge ornate floats that are carried through the streets of Malaga by hundreds of church members. These remarkable thrones are adorned with religious sculptures depicting Jesus or Mary, some created by renowned Spanish artists. The floats are festooned with flowers and candles and are the focal point of the procession. They are escorted by groups of penitents wearing long purple robes and women dressed in black and wearing mantilla - a black lace veil worn high on the back of the head. 

Other attractions are saetas singing by people on balconies along the procession route. The throne stops or slows down during this traditional religious song. Semana Santa processions parades from their church to the city’s cathedral. To spot the start of a procession, look out for the giant cross that is always carried at the front.