There seems to be always something big great and fascinating going on in Andalucia!
Easter is here Semana Santa. Holy Easter Week. Started on Palm Sunday ( in some places already Friday before that ) and went on throughout the week until Easter Sunday.
Semana Santa is huge here, the biggest of festivals in Catholic Church around the world. Somehow here in Andalucia its even bigger. I was searching for information on internet and was suprised to read that the happenings throughout the week that gathers millions of people on the streets are not organized by the church itself. Everything is by independent religious brotherhoods ( hermandades ) and they even finance this glory themselves. Allthough happenings this week are extremely popular; there are some people also who thinks this is too much and all the misery should not be shown so grandly.
This entire week is a school vacation week and I could already tell beginning of the week that also loads of adult people are on vacation. Supermarkets has been really busy and streets as well. People were buying soooo much food that Oskar was asking me at the Mercadona " mom, do you they really have that big fridge they can buy all that??" - So I guess this easter time in Spanish families are also a food fiesta! I actually panicked a bit thinking " are they gonna close supermarkets for few days" but I guess not.. there is always something open here. Always.
The biggest thing during this week are the parades- well they are not parades really- I guess its Procession the correct word? And there is many many many of them going on. They start on Palm Sunday with a Jesus riding a donkey on the streets and people are greeting him with leaves from palmtrees. Just as the story goes in the bible. On Palm Sunday the athmosphere is happy and cheerful. And as the week goes on- the feeling and music gets heavier and heavier.. thursday night and friday are the heaviest. Jesus carrying the cross and people crying. It is extremely emotional. Most of the Processions are held middle of the night the first ones leave late afternoon and the last ones middle of the night and goes on until 3-5 am. I read from the newspaper that only in Malaga there is usually more than a million people watching. I saw some of this in tv- and for me it did look a bit heavy. Fascinating- but heavy. Some people travel from far to be able to participate and to live through the story with others. Very important week for those in belief.
All these processions are organized by the brotherhoods. I read that usually guys join the brotherhoods already at really young age and it is a huge honor to be able to participate Semana Santa happenings. In Malaga there is 41 registered brotherhoods, here in Fuengirola we have 4. Some brotherhoods are really old, dates back to 16th, 17th century. Some are only 50yrs old or less. Sizes also varies, some are huge and some smaller. Members start as Nazarenos- guys with a hood that walks around the Trono. Some brotherhoods had more than 900 Nazarenos, guys with a funny hood. ( looks a bit like KuKluxKlan). Nazarenos can be adults or kids, boys or girls. Everyone in the brotherhood is participating somehow. Trono is a holy statue, They all have Virgen and Jesus, flowers, candles, lots of gold. It is a highly respected job to get to carry the Trono and some guys even pay to be one of the carriers. It weights thousands and thousands and there is tens if not hundreds of guys carrying it each year. Tronos are also really old and very beautiful. Biggest Tronos needs up to 200 carriers.
There are also marching bands involved walking before and after the Trono. 3 kinds of bands here in Andalucia, some play with Jesus some play only with Virgen. But there is always music.
Malaga's own boy- Antonio Banderas- is one of the carriers of one brotherhood here in Malaga.
They usually walk few kilometres, sometimes less, but it takes hours since they have to walk so slowly and they also take a lot of breaks. Cities are full of chairs and stands of different size and people really spend all day / night there watching and enjoying.
Different processions are held many times during the day and the colour of the carriers and Nazarenos varies by the brotherhood. The music is usually the same / similar but colours are different. Colours also change as the week goes on. The meaning of these processions is to play the entire story of what happened to Jesus on this easter week. And they do it exactly as the bible says.
In some cities they also have proper plays; " Pasions". One very popular and respected Pasion is held each year in here in Andalucia, in Sevilla.
The main days of the week are ofcourse - Thursday to Sunday.
Jueves Santo - Domingo de Resurrection.
The night of Jueves Santo is also interesting as during the processions some prisoners are let to freedom. Brotherhoods can apply for -serious reasons- freedom for selected prisoners and each year some of them are released.. Last year one guy was released here in Fuengirola and I was told that the exact moment was when the Procession went past the Town Hall.
Thursday always starts "heavy action" just as in the bible. The processions held on thursday and friday night in Malaga are the ones that gathers most of people, more than a million each year. Thursday night is Legion Night, as hundreds of solders participate the processon. The marching band is military and they also sing a hymn to Jesus when he starts his journey. We saw in tv this Legion Procession take off in Malaga. It was stunning to hear them leave, hundreds of soldiers singing a hymn and marching with the Trono.
Then Saurday is more quiet. On Saturday there is no mess at all during the day. It is The Day when people were standing next to Jesus's grave waiting for his resurrection. The mess is held at midnight ... and then
- the " easter party starts" and is celebrated for 50days from now on.
Some people dont eat anything between Friday and Saturday midnight.
Sunday procession is the last one of the week and takes off in the morning. The athmosphere is again happy and cheerful and this procession is more for families. There is Jesus and Virgen Tronos, but also all the brotherhoods participate somehow. Very colourful procession.
This years Semana Santa was crazy. Weather has been awful all week and most of the processions could not go to the streets at all. Just simply because they are so grande, brotherhoods did not want to risk any damage. Sevilla was hit the worst. It was the first time since 1933 all the brotherhoods had to stay in on Thursday night. We had all night and day live shows on tv and we saw how people very extremely shocked and disappointed for not be able to go to streets. Processions are something they prepare all year and it is THE thing for the brotherhood. So this was a huge catastrophe. However, all the churches were open all night and instead of watching the procession, people got to go to see the Tronos inside the churches.
this week was just amanzing experience. Thank You Spain! - I raise my hat and say WOW!