Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Semana Santa Celebration in Sevilla

23/4/11 (written on time...posted very late)

First of all, Happy Easter and I hope the Easter bunny treated everyone well…it doesn’t really exist here and I’m going through some Cadbury Eggs and Peeps withdrawal.  Today (Easter Sunday) actually isn’t that big of a deal here in Sevilla, however the past week (Semana Santa) is one of the biggest Holy Week celebrations in the entire world.  The main attractions of Semana Santa here in Sevilla are the processions that pass through the city throughout the entire week.  Each procession is organized by a hermandad (a brotherhood - which is not the same a religious brotherhood of monks) and makes its way from their church to the cathedral in the center of town and then back again.  A procession consists on two pasos, which are huge float like structures (one with a sculpture that depicts a scene from the passion of Christ and another with a sculpture of their specific virgin) and 30 to 40 men (called costaleros) are needed to carry each paso.  In addition to the pasos there are also Navarenos, and penitentes walking in each procession.  The Nazarenos are members of the hermandad that walk in two rows and are the people dressed as if they were KKK members with robs and tall pointy hats that also cover their face.  The penitentes are people who have asked God for something and normally walked barefoot, carry a cross, and some even whip themselves as they walk through the city.  The colors worn by the Nazarenos and penitentes depend on what hermandad they belong to and are used as a form of identification, similar to the colors of a sports team.  Some of the processions are silent, however the majority of them have at least one marching band (but usually two or three).

Unfortunately most of Semana Santa this year was characterized by torrential rain, which meant that the majority of the processions were canceled since the pasos would be ruined in the rain and very expensive to repair or replace.  The most popular and important processions occur very early on Friday morning (leaving their church around 1 or 2 AM) and even though we arrived back in Sevilla Thursday evening, these were among the processions that were canceled.  However, Saturday morning the rain let up enough for some of the processions to occur and we were able to see the hermandad de la Virgen del Sol.  Even though I was glad to see at least one procession, it was very strange because I had only seen pictures of Semana Santa in the narrow streets of the center of town and we saw the procession on a modern street with trams, billboards, etc. which clashed with the old, traditional pasos and outfits of the Nazarenos and penitentes. 

First paso with Jesus.

Paso with the Virgin.

One of the three marching bands

The nazarenos.

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