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Semana Santa Easter in Andalusia

April 15, 2009



Semana Santa Andalusia white village Spain


Hot sun, cool shade, blue sky, ancient white stucco, patterned cobbled streets, sweat upon a "costelero's" brow, small gloved hands fingering rosaries,

flower petals thrown from balconies and in pots all around, vivid costumes, girls in mantillas, brass with drum marching band bellows emotive melodies,

while Jesus and Mary dance, making magic street theater in our little village!

It is absolutely a stunning production from each hand made, over-sized scapula to the mysterious costumes, banners, music, masks, crosses and  decorated sculptures. I am always stunned at how much workmanship and money goes into each festival for such a tiny village.

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This is our third Easter in Spain and I am still enthralled  by how they celebrate it here in Andalusia. It gives me thrills, touches my heart deeply, mystifies me and makes me weep. During the first spring on our world tour, we went to Semana Santa (Holy Week) in Seville which has become world a famous event because they celebrate it so elaborately. Every year, over  a million people flock to Seville to witness one of the best and most renown celebrations in the world. NOBODY does Easter, better than the Andalusians!

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The history of Semana Santa in Andalusia is very rich and has been going on since the 16th century. This is a  wonderful book if you are interested in learning more. I am going to add it to my list of books on Spain, but just haven't had time to update all the new ones I have found yet.

Like so many festivals here and like every funeral, always they walk down the main narrow street in the oldest part of town.There seems to be a power in this community builder and ritualistic pagentry. It always starts at the church and the large plaza there (which interestingly, is right next to the street called Inquisidor! ).

From the church at one end, they walk as a group slowly, snaking their way through ancient narrow cobbled streets, all the way down, across and up to the area across town where there is a cemetery and meeting hall (in the newest part of town). People watch from their balconies and along the side of the entire route, many throw petals of bright red flowers. I have become very fond of processions.

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I am so grateful that we got to experience it in Seville, but it is also a madhouse with all the crowds, so I actually prefer Seville outside of tourist season. We had intended to check out other cities like Malaga and Granada for their unique Semana Santa Celebrations, but so far we have not done that because we are so fond of the one they put on in our tiny white village.

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What makes it really special here is that we KNOW all the people who participate. This is our third winter of living here so we see the children that go to school with Mozart and the families that we know because in this small of a village, everybody knows everybody. And everybody participates in the festivals from the youngest to the oldest.

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The little girl in the mantilla is one that has stayed over night in our home, the little boy carrying the cross is the one who chases Mozart at the park. The beautiful teen in the somber black mantilla walking alone is the darling girl who helps Mozart catch up with her flamenco routines that she misses while on the road.

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The matronly woman proudly  carrying the beautiful hand made banner is our friend  who works at the pharmacy (" pharmacia ") where we pick up homeopathic remedies and things. The police officer that helps with kids crossing when school opens and closes during the week, was playing his trombone in "our" village band (which adds so much to this and all the festivals).

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Many of the Semana Santa celebrations happen at night so are hard to capture, but these Easter photos from this past Sunday give you some idea of the drama. We took plenty so will have them in Flickr and available to purchase at our Imagekind store. I posted some pictures on Twitpic and our Facebook group.

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We also got some great video that we will get up on our Soultravelers3 Youtube Channel (don't forget to subscribe to us there and in our RSS feed so that you will be the first to see it!). We are starting to feel the transition energy here as we have already started our packing up process (a little each day) as we prepare to get back on the road again, but we have some more videos coming soon!

I posted this quote some time ago, when I was moved by another festival in our village, but it still speaks to me and explains the Andalusia resident's values well:

“Spain in general and Andalusia in particular teaches us
that you can have no real communal life unless
you have focal and celebratory events throughout the year,
in which the large majority of people in that community participate.
That is because the only true basis of community
is not supposedly enlightened self-interest but actual shared experience.
This is much assisted by the preservation of pre-industrial feasts and saints’ days and by a due attention to the rhythms of the seasons. ”   

Alastair Boyd

I hope your Easter was grand! There are no Easter bunnies in Spain, but Mozart  was found again, much to her delight, although she was a little disappointed that it was not in an Easter basket ( since they are so hard to find in Spain). She is still munching on left over chocolate and has already finished the fat book she got. What do you think about the celebrations in Spain?

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Elizabeth

Amazing photos!

Jurgen

This looks awesome and colourful. The atmosphere must have been amazing. I love the colours.

jen laceda

Hi,
I grew up in the Philippines (now living in Toronto), so with the Spanish influence strong and mighty, I too have witnessed quite a few Semana Santa processions. The most riveting ones are the ones in your own town/barrio, since you see familiar faces in very unfamiliar roles.

I am so very envious of your way of life. I wish I had your family's courage and teancity to do what you are doing. I have a 2-year-old at home, and can only wish she has Mozart's life, where the world is her classroom. Please know that there are people in this world rooting and cheering for soultravelers3!

wineybrett

Good post and photos - brings back many memories of Semana Santa in Sevilla many, many years ago. I remember we just didn't stop for 36 hours!

Francisco Ivan Ramirez

Wonderful Semana Santa pictures. Thanks for sharing!
@ivan_filios

marina villatoro

wow, i was in antigua, guatemala for semana santa (still organizing my 600 photos to post:), and it's sooooo different. this event looked more innocent, less bleaker and not as gruesome as they seem to depict it in guatemala!
The Travel Expert(a) and an Expat with a Twist

Kim@Galavanting

What absolutely stunning photos! What a great choice it was for you guys to winter there.

Lifecruiser Travel Blog

Beautiful photos! What a village. I certainly can understand why you prefer to watch the Semana Santa processions there.

I wrote about our Semana Santa experience in another Andalusian town last year and filled up with more photos this Sunday.

http://lifecruiser.com/archive/spanish-easter-semana-santa/

I love the pattern in the street too. Lovely!

soultravelers3

@Elizabeth Thanks! Boy, you were quick to find it as I had barely got it up when I saw your comment! ;)

@Jurgen Thanks! It really is amazing to watch and I tried to capture it the best I can, but the music also adds so much.

@jen laceda Thank you so much for your kind words! It was really nice to hear and we really feel that support! Your experiences sound great & it's so nice that you can relate to seeing it with people you know participating.

@wineybrett Glad it brought back memories! Seville really takes it to another level don't they? Unforgettable!

@ivan_filios Thanks & I appreciate you RTing it on Twitter too! Glad to connect on friendfeed! I am still figuring that one out. lol!

@marina villatoro Andalusians tend to be very joyful and elegant people, so their festivals differ even than different parts of Spain. The Semana Santas in Galicia, Spain are very Celtic. The variations around the world make it interesting, eh? Also the darker ones are during the Good Friday period, earlier in the week and these are all from Easter Sunday.


@Kim Thanks so much! Yes, what a lucky choice we made by coming here ...which was quite serendipitous & picked off the internet sight unseen.
I think everyone should winter here...cheap, warm & great people plus festivals! ;)

Rene

Great pics, and really beautiful too, but there's something totally creepy about the statues and some of the costumes.

Wanderluster

Really lovely photos. I was in Mexico for Semana Santa one year and this is all so familiar.

marina villatoro

hi, great pics. finally got some of the semana santa pics from guatemala up. you can see the insane differences!

Photo Friday - Behind the Scenes

Amie from Ciao Bambino

These are great photos ... were were in Seville for Easter a few years ago. Definitely a must-do experience as your rich photos clearly demonstrate.

Dominique

Wow...quite the production! Thanks for sharing the story and the beautiful photos.

Jordi Cabot

Glad that you like Spain. Maybe it is too late for organizing the trip but next 23rd of April is "Sant Jordi" (Saint George, in catalan). This is the best day of the year to be in Catalonia, specially there is nothing better that got lost that day in the Ramblas of Barcelona (and this is way:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_George's_Day#Catalonia)

WildJunket

Great pictures! Having spent several Semana Santas in Granada, it's one of the best time of the year to see Andalusia. Your pictures make me miss it alot, I will be back in Spain soon!

Marcel del Castillo

Muy buen viaje.....

rossana Rodriguez

Ostias tiooooo te felicito..... Que viva España

rossana Rodriguez

Visiten mi blog es sobre venezuela

Raymond Axaval

Seville is one of my favorite cities in the world, more so during semana santa. Spectacular!Awesome! I really love Spain in general. Thank you.

lara dunston

Nice post! We recently spent 2 weeks in Jerez as part of our Grantourismo project (a yearlong contemporary grand tour of the world) and saw the boys 'in training' for the upcoming procession every night of the week, starting around midnight. It looked like hard work!

We're in Ceret, in Catalunyan France now, so looking forward to seeing the procession in Perpignan on Friday.

These pics have whetted my appetite for the event - thanks!

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