Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – Semana Santa: Easter in Spain by Darlene Foster

Darlene Foster shares a post from her archives that brought back memories for me of our seventeen years in Spain. Easter is a big festival and is an occasion for all the family to take to the streets.

Semana Santa: Easter in Spain by Darlene Foster

The week before and including Easter is called Semana Santa here in Spain and is the largest religious festival of the year. Elaborate processions take place throughout the week in most cities and towns. During Holy week religious sculptures are taken out of the churches and paraded through the town to the main cathedral. Some of these precious sculptures,created by well known Spanish artists, are hundreds of years old. They are mounted on floats called pasos, surrounded with flowers and candles. Portapasos (or float-carriers) wearing traditional costumes, carry the heavy floats through the streets lined with spectators. No large trucks transport these floats, only dedicated men and women. I was eager to see one of these parades so we took a bus to nearby Murcia city to witness the Good Friday procession.

float

Paso carried through the streets of Murcia

Jesus Nazareno, 1797

Jesus Nazareno, 1797

San Juan Evangelista, 1952

San Juan Evangelista, 1952

float 2

Descendimiento, 2001

Ahead of the floats, carrying lamps, candles or incense, are the Nazarenos, often called penitents. These are members of various religious brotherhoods known as cofradias, wearing robes, capes and capirotes, a type of conical hat that usually covers the face. These robes were once worn by individuals doing penance. As a sign of atoning their sins, they would walk barefoot through the town, their faces covered so as not to reveal the sinners. Although the hooded cloaks look similar to the Ku Klux Klan, they have nothing to do with them. Many of these brotherhoods date back to the Middle Ages and are recognized by the colours they wear. They are responsible for the parade, pasos and music and spend countless hours in preparation, ensuring everything runs smoothly. There were about a dozen floats in this parade, each represented by a different brotherhood.

Penitent with bare feet

Penitent with bare feet.

green robes

red robes

Each Brotherhood wears its own colour

Included in the procession are women wearing the traditional mantilla, a black lace veil worn high on the back of the head. Mantillas are meant to show morning and pain. Marching bands and drummers follow the floats providing stirring music. The entire scene is alive with colour and sound, and the air is filled with the sweet scent of incense and melted wax. As always in Spain, this is a family affair with all ages taking part in the spectacle.

Women wearing Mantillas

Solemn women wearing Mantillas

all ages

All ages take part in the procession.

bishops

Incredible embroideries of gold and silk on standards, cloaks and coats

Drummers are heard throughout the cities and towns

Drummers are heard throughout the cities and towns

Candies and pastries play an important role in the Easter festivities. The Nazarenos and other members of the procession carry candy around their waists and hand them out to children who wait patiently with outstretched hands. Occasionally they give a treat to an adult too. A small robed participant caught my eyes, ran over to me, and placed some sweets in my hand, with a huge grin. So sweet.

Handing out candy to the children

Handing out candy to the children

This person is not fat, he is carrying candy around his waist.

This person is not fat, he is carrying candy around his waist.

Easter candy in the bakery

Easter candy in the bakery.

I love the stockings of the float bearers

I love the stockings of the float bearers

It is difficult not to be moved no matter what your beliefs. A merging of art, culture and religion in a vital and poignant atmosphere, I found it to be emotional and exciting at the same time. I’m thankful I was able to witness the dedication and pageantry of this special event.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter, however you spend it.

©images Darlene Foster 2016

Thanks to Darlene for sharing this celebration of Easter in Spain. As always we would love your feedback.

About Darlene Foster

Darlene Foster is a writer, an employment counsellor, an ESL tutor for children, a wife, mother and grandmother. She loves travel, shoes, cooking, reading, sewing, chocolate, music, the beach and making new friends. Her 13-year-old grandson called her “super-mega-woman-supreme”.

She was brought up on a ranch near Medicine Hat, Alberta, where she dreamt of traveling the world and meeting interesting people. She currently divides her time between the west coast of Canada and the Costa Blanca in Spain, with her husband Paul.

“Amanda in Arabia-The Perfume Flask” was her first published novel. Once bitten by the travel bug, Amanda travels to other interesting places, sticking her nose in other people’s problems and getting herself in trouble. Read “Amanda in Spain – The Girl in the Painting”, “Amanda in England – The Missing Novel”, “Amanda in Alberta – The Writing on the Stone”, and “Amanda on the Danube – The Sounds of Music” and “Amanda in New Mexico – Ghosts in the Wind”  to find out the adventures Amanda has as she travels the world.

 

About Amanda in Arabia: The Perfume Flask

Amanda Ross is an average twelve year old Canadian girl. So what is she doing thousands of kilometres from home in the United Arab Emirates? It’s her own fault really, she wished for adventure and travel when she blew out those candles on her last birthday cake. Little did she know that a whole different world awaited her on the other side of the globe, one full of intrigue, mystery and folklore. A world with a beautiful princess, a dangerous desert and wonderful friends. Join Amanda on her first adventure as she discovers the secrets behind The Perfume Flask.

And a recent review for the book.

Jan 18, 2018 Eileen Carter rated it it was amazing  

Adventure on every page.

What a great book for a young girl who enjoys adventure. Darlene Foster has written a Nancy Drew like book set in UAE. Amanda is ready for adventure when she goes to visit her aunt and uncle. She makes a new friend, Leah. But what happens when she buys a perfume flash?

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Amanda-Arabia-Perfume-Darlene-Foster-ebook/dp/B016TX3P26

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Amanda-Arabia-Perfume-Darlene-Foster-ebook/dp/B016TX3P26

A selection of other books by Darlene Foster

Read the reviews and buy all of Darlene’s books: https://www.amazon.com/Darlene-Foster/e/B003XGQPHA

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Darlene-Foster/e/B003XGQPHA

Read more reviews and follow Darlene on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3156908.Darlene_Foster

Connect to Darlene via her website and social media.

Website: www.darlenefoster.ca
Blog: https://darlenefoster.wordpress.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DarleneFosterWriter
Twitter: https://twitter.com/supermegawoman

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53 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – Semana Santa: Easter in Spain by Darlene Foster

  1. A wonderful look at the way another culture celebrates Easter, Darlene. Loved the photos and the detailed information. I’ve learned something new tonight, and that’s always a good thing! Thank you for sharing, and thank you, Sally, for hosting the post! Lovely! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. What a lovely experience, Darlene and thank you for sharing it with us…I love pagentry and tradition and it is lovely to see it being preserved and followed through the ages. Happy Easter 🙂 x

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for this lovely post, Darlene and Sally! How fascinating to have seen this in person. The photos are wonderful! I enjoy hearing about other peoples customs and celebrations.

    When I was a little girl our church would have May processions and they would carry the statues in the parade. I marched as a majorette twirling my baton and other times all dressed up in a gown. It was exciting to be in it! I’ve always loved parades!

    Happy Easter to both of you! Hugs xx

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I love this post. Mom and I were lucky enough to be in Andalusia during Semana Santa and it was just the most beautiful, incredibly moving week. As Catholics we were as one with everything that was happening. This post has brought back many happy memories of a once in a lifetime experience. Happy Easter.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You said it well, it is a merging of art, culture, and religion in a beautiful place. This is truly wonderful, Darlene. It is a spectacle of magnificence and importance. The photos are stunning. I learned so much. Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I have always admired the way the Spanish and French preserve and celebrate their history and culture, whether it’s a religious festival, a wine festival or one that celebrates the oyster, the paella or whatever. Compare this with the sad decline in England where a few months back a Morris Men performance was physically attacked for racism because they had traditional blackened faces! You couldn’t make this up!

    Liked by 2 people

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  8. Pingback: Smorgasbord: Easter in Spain by Darlene Foster – The Militant Negro™

  9. When our children lived in Pilsen, the Mexican quarter in Chicago, they observed parades such as these, so colorful and significant.

    We spent Easter at my daughter’s house and relatives, lovely. In the evening, our neighbors accompanied us to the Passion Play at our church!

    Liked by 2 people

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