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Semana Santa in Sevilla

Semana Santa in Sevilla

Even though it was 3 weeks ago I thought it would be worthwhile to talk about it since it’s kinda a bit deal here. So what is it right? Semana Santa means Holy Week in Spanish and it’s a very religious celebration the whole week before Easter.

This week is celebrated all around the world in Christian cities but no place does it like Sevilla. Everyday during this religious week there are what they call “pasos de cofradias” in which a team of “costaleros” (sack men in spanish) carry on their backs heavy lifelike wood or plaster sculptures of individual scenes from Jesus’ arrest and his burial and images of the Virgin Mary showing grief for the torture and killing of her son.

In Sevilla, and many other Andalusia cities, they close down the main streets in the old center and place barriers so that people can’t walk in front of these processions. This creates a maze for pedestrians to try to navigate the city because it forces people to venture into the back alleys and hidden streets of the center to find an alternative path. In front of the cofradias walk the “penitentes”, who dress in long purple robes and they are the ones who are deeply asking for forgiveness. There are also people dressed in white robes with pointy hats which are referred to as “Nazarenos” and these costumes are hard to ignore given their resemblance to what KKK members in the US wear. But of course this tradition has been going on for hundreds of years so we must respect the cultural relativism. The “Nazarenes” sometimes walk barefoot and even have chains around their ankles to resemble their attachment to Jesus during this time. Also, some processions have music accompanied by a Capella choirs while others are quiet and somber.

This is really peaceful time in Sevilla. Most shops are closed and people gather in the streets to pray and pay tribute to churches and the bear witness to the cofradias making their way through the streets. This is another unique cultural celebration that shouldn’t be ignored during your visit to Sevilla.

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