Semana Santa, otherwise known as Easter, is a magical time of year in Spain. It is a series of religious ceremonies and an opportunity for parishes all over Spain to come together and celebrate their local brotherhoods and fraternities. Each church has the opportunity to process their icons of Christ, the Virgin Mary and other biblical scenes through the streets, accompanied by hundreds (or in some cases thousands) of faithfuls and members of the church congregation. It is steeped in tradition and ceremony. Every village, town and city in Andalucia celebrates their local tradition and they are all unique and wonderful to admire and watch. We have spent many a Holy Week in the stunning city of Seville. The devotion of the crowd is impressive and the huge “pasos” carrying unique pieces of Baroque sculpture are a sight to behold.
Please enjoy these wonderful photos…
These are the pointed hoods you see the Penitents wearing. They were originally designed to protect the anonymity of the sinners so they would not be recognised by the townsfolk. The colour and style will vary according to which Hermandad they belong to.
These are the enormous floats, which are literally “mobile altars” in some cases, that are carried on the shoulders of the Penitents. Many Brotherhoods have two; one depicting Christ and the other, the Virgin. In Seville alone there are some 60 Pasos, or processions taking place between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday so there is an intricate logistical plan that must always be followed to ensure all of the floats can be taken to the Cathedral at the allocated time, and not get into a traffic jam in some of the narrower corners of the historic quarter!
As you can see the crowds in Seville (and in other cities of Andalucia) are significant and the atmosphere is electric.
Hermandades and Cofradías
These are the Church Brotherhoods that you will see making the Easter processions each year, the culmination of months of preparation and devotion. Each Church has its own statues mounted upon the float, depicting the scenes of the life of Christ or the Virgin – or often they may have both.
It isn’t always deadly serious either, sometimes it all gets a bit tongue in cheek 😉
If you would like to know more about the city of Seville, read our comprehensive guide, or take a look at some of our previous Semana Santa experiences on our blog Easter in Spain for beginners or Seville Holy Week Tour.
Thanks to Sam for the wonderful photos and to Lindsay for her beautiful descriptions.