Today I have a guest post from my daughter Angela who has also provided the photos. She was lucky enough to spend three months teaching English as a foreign language in a bilingual school in Seville in Southern Spain a couple of years ago and experienced the Easter celebrations for holy week. This was part of the Erasmus scheme which provides study opportunities abroad for both students and teachers. She was surprised to find that children got a lot less chocolate than at home and a shorter Easter holiday. Many of the children came to school wearing national costume.
Santa Semana (Holy Week) is one of the most culturally important events in the Spanish calendar, diverse festivities are held in every region but the most famous and popular takes place in Seville. The city is taken over by religious processions which ten of thousands of people take part in while many more thousands visit the city to absorb the spectacle.
Each procession is led by Nazareons (Nazarenes), members of Catholic religious orders who wear distinctive robes to show penitence.
Members of the procession typically carry elaborate floats and statues of Jesus or the Virgin Mary from their own churches through the city streets towards Seville’s awe-inspiring Cathedral; the largest in the world. For Christians the journey symbolizes Jesus’ last days before his crucifixion.
Women who partake in the procession may wear black mantillas, intricate black lace dresses with veils which show respect to the solemnity of the occasion.
Each procession is accompanied by music, the religious statues are serenaded by the singing of ‘saetas’ and brass bands rehearse for weeks to prepare to accompany the religious orders on their journeys.
Sadly the processions which are thought to date from the 16th century had to be cancelled this year due to coronavirus and Seville cathedral is currently closed to visitors. It will cost the Seville economy about four hundred million Euros.