VIBRANT religious celebrations take place all over Spain in the days leading up to Easter Sunday. Emotion stirring processions make their way through cities and towns across the country. The festivities do vary by region, each having their own slightly different take on Easter.
In Andalucia the celebrations are large and emotive, similar to the rest of Spain where people gather on the streets to partake in a custom so entrenched in religion and ritual, the atmosphere is energetic and passionate created by music, traditional costumes and float bearers.
Many of the procession are members of ‘brotherhoods’. They are responsible for carefully carrying and manoeuvring the floats with statues of religious figures as well as being in charge of the musicians.
As many as 2,000 members of a brotherhood can take part carrying rods, banners, candles, depending on their level of seniority. The most senior is likely to carry a golden rod.
The ‘costaleros’ are members who carry the weight of the float and statues of different biblical scenes, and are directed by the head of the group who makes sure that the float is carried with the necessary grace in keeping with the tradition.
The costaleros have to walk for long distances and many hours carrying the thrones so use a small cushion called a costal, this prevents sores on the skin from carrying the wood.
Thrones are then followed by ‘Nazarenos’ who are dressed in tunics, masks and pointy hoods.
The procession then reaches its destination at the church with a moment of heightened religious sentiment.
Alive with colour and sound due to the variety of tunics, hoods, bands and banners. Slow rhythmic beating of drums sets the pace of the processional march. There is also a typical wailing called the ‘saeta’, a sacred song not too dissimilar to the sounds of flamenco and sung throughout the entirety of Holy Week.
Even people from a non-religious background will find it hard not to be moved with the passion of the event. A week of fiestas, ritual and spiritual/religious reflection, the ceremony epitomises Spanish culture and reflects the spirit of the Spanish people.
Certain towns may have variations of ‘Semana Santa’, but the feeling and fervour is the same. Large cities usually have extended celebrations which can be a week long, attracting thousands of people from far and wide.
The pride and enthusiasm of the nation is reflected in the floats of the procession. A sight and atmosphere everyone living in Spain should experience.