Holy Week, known as Semana Santa here in Spain, is upon us. Prior to moving to Spain, I looked forward to these celebrations of our shared faith, recognizing that there are centuries of rich traditions here in Spain that far exceed what I learned in Sunday school. Fortunately, I was able to participate in a seminar on Semana Santa that provided great background.
The Semana Santa processions started in defiance to the Protestants during the Reformation, when it was decided that if people were no longer coming to church, they would take everything out of the church to the people. So, each night different statues are carried out of the churches and into the streets on pasos (floats). As the seminar instructor said, if something looks like silver, it is real silver.
Different fraternities or brotherhoods lead the processions, literally carrying the weight of the pasos on their necks. Many of the participants wear cloaks and hoods, which traditionally allowed one to demonstrate he is in penance, while still remaining anonymous.
For a good glimpse into the majesty and power of Semana Santa, view the promo video below about the festivities in Sevilla, widely regarded as some of the most spectacular in Spain. It paints a far better picture than I can, though I’ll be back with snapshots from a couple of the processions here in Rota.