Holy Week is known as Semana Santa in Spain, and Seville has been holding this commemoration since the 16th century. With its penitential processions taking place on pretty much every corner, it will be easy for you to be a part of this annual celebration. This year, the city’s famous celebration takes place from Palm Sunday until Easter Sunday, March 24 through 31.
The week leading up to Easter is the Semana Santa, or Holy Week. During this time, the city’s church brotherhoods will carry some 115 floats throughout the city streets. The most popular viewing spots are when the float leaves the church at the beginning of the procession (salida in Spanish) and when it enters the church at the end of the procession (entrada in Spanish), and all of them pass through the cathedral. The most popular viewing areas require tickets which are purchased in advance, but you can also get a good view from a variety of other places along the route. You may want to arrive early to get the best views.
Nazarenos are the people who accompany the floats, and they are dressed in robes and cone shaped hoods to protect their identity. Many of them are not allowed to talk once they’ve gotten dressed, so don’t try to ask them if you need directions! Brass bands sometimes accompany the procession, which can influence the pace of the procession as well. Some might have other musicians or singers, and someone in the crowd might sing out in prayer as well. There’s also a silent procession called El Silencio during which one should also try to respect their wish for silence and refrain from talking. The processions usually include a float with at least one sculpture of Christ, which depict an aspect from the story of Christ’s life, and a sculpture of the Virgin Mary, who is usually depicted mourning the loss of her son. These floats are carried by members of the religious brotherhood. Penitent members carrying wooden crosses usually walk at the back of the procession.
On the night of Holy Thursday, the most important processions will set out to be able to arrive at the Cathedral at dawn on Good Friday. This is called the La Madrugá. The revered sculptures Jesús del Gran Poder, la Macarena, la Esperanza de Triana and el Cristo de los Gitanos are all carried through the city on this night. And this is the one of the most popular nights of the Semana Santa. People leave in the late evening and follow the processions throughout the entire night.
And, of course, you’ll want to take a break every so often to enjoy some delicious tapas and Spanish wine. A special treat that is prepared especially for the Semana Santa is torrijas, which is like French toast or bread pudding. Some say this sweet treat was first created by nuns in the 15th century, but others say it was inherited from the Moors.
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