April 4, 2013 by cmcguigan91
Samana Santa is one of the largest festivals in Spain. It is the celebration of Easter and the holy week leading up to it. It starts on Friday with Viernes de Dolores (Friday of Hurt) continues the whole week until it ends on Resurrection Sunday. This festival is especially important in Adnalucia, and thousands of people come to watch the processions. These processions represent the different days of holy week; the imprisonment, crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Just in Granada there are 32 processions! Each one is done by a different brotherhood.
Every procession starts with a cross. The focus of the parade is the paso, which is a giant “float” which holds a depiction of Jesus or the Virgin Mary. Most of the processions have both. These pasos are beautiful works of art, each one huge and intricately designed. Preceding and following the pasos are penitentes. They wear cucuruchos, which are pointed hats that cover their faces. This is to represent the shame, for their sins. (These people DO NOT in any way have association with the KKK.) For every procession, the penitentes wear a different color robe and cucurucho.
There are also women in the parade, dressed all in black and wearing mantillas (veils). They carry candles and rosaries and usually follow the paso.
Unfortunately, according to locals it always rains during Semana Santa. If it is raining the processions don’t happen. Can you imagine working hard all year and then it rains on one day and all your work is for nothing?! It rained a few times during the week, but luckily I was able to see a bunch of processions!
Jueves Santo there are many parades, and a lot of them go at the same time! If you take a look at this map, you can see how confusing it can be. During Semana Santa if you need to get anywhere, going through the center can take hours! Everywhere you turn there are a million people and it’s easy to randomly run into one parade as you’re leaving another. Luckily, I spent many of the processions with Chari, who knew what she was doing.
Each paso is carried by 30-40 men. These pasos can weigh over a ton! During the procession the men set down and pick up the float many times because of the weight. They are underneath it, so they must listen to a man who gives directions from outside. The men all walk in time to the beat of a drum or cymbal. It is very impressive. Chari’s brother does this, and Chari says that he has a bump on the back of his neck year round from carrying the weight.
The music is incredible, too. There are different bands for every procession, and the music is different too. There is so much emotion in the music, t can be so uplifting or so depressing. The music, along with the swaying of the paso was a beautiful thing to witness.
According to Chari, the best places to watch the processions are in narrow streets or at corners. It is exciting watching the paso barely make it through a crowded street. One time we ran into a parade that got caught in a telephone wire! Luckily it got unstuck before anything bad happened. Emocionante!
For the Silencio processions, at midnight on Thursday, surrounding bars close down and everyone goes to the streets to watch the parade. There is no light but the candles, and it is very quiet.
Viernes Santo there were many processions to attend. They lasted throughout the day and well into the night.
Sabado Santo there was only one procesión, Santa María de La Alhambra. This procession is different from many because it has only one paso, of the VIrgin Mary with Jesus on her lap.
There were processions on Sunday but I didn’t see any of them. It was raining so I’m not sure they even happened. Either way, I chose to spend that day in bed after a long, tiring week.
Semana Santa, Granada, Spain… Overwhelming beautiful.