Journals from Spain - Center for Cross-Cultural Studies
2010-05-02 Semana Santa (Part 2)
Virgin Mary image being carried through the streets
Hola otra vez!
Well, to continue my observations of Semana Santa, I would like to share a little more about my personal experiences with that week. Our week of vacation (basically our Spring Break) started on Palm Sunday and lasted until the following Sunday, Easter. Palm Sunday was interesting because most of the people in Sevilla were dressed up in really nice clothes, and all of the families left their houses to take walks and see the first processions. Traditionally people wear really nice clothes during this week, especially on Palm Sunday and Maundy Thursday.
I saw several processions throughout the week. It was a good cultural experience, but I think there are some parts of it that I still do not completely understand. For example, all of the floats are very aesthetically beautiful and well made, but I do not see very much difference between each of the Virgin Mary figures that pass by. Many people like to exclaim about how different they are, but when you have been wandering around all day or night just to see three pasos, you begin to wonder what is so special about this one in front of you compared to all of the others.
Thursday night was especially an adventure compared with all of the other days. It is traditional not only for people to dress up, but also for everyone to stay up all night long and then go to bed in the morning. Some of the most famous pasos go out that night, so the streets are full of people trying to catch all of their favorites. My friends and I stayed out all night and ended up seeing three of the pasos. It was a very interesting experience trekking all over the downtown just to find the right paso at the right time and even huddling together in the cold as we waited for the hundreds of nazareinos to pass by before the figure of Jesus came. When 8:00 finally came around, we decided to get some churros with chocolate and then head home to sleep. What an unforgettable experience!
Semana Santa is one of the biggest traditions here in Sevilla. There are processions in other cities and towns in Spain as well, but it is especially important in Sevilla. I was impressed with all of the work that goes into that week. But I felt sadness watching the pasos go by at times. There were so many of us standing there watching them go by and then leaving right after to go catch another one. It just makes me wonder that if all of that tradition has covered up the real meaning behind Holy Week. Is it just a week of vacations and cultural experiences? Or does it mean more than that? Did we just see the figures and images passing by and say, Oh how beautiful? Or did we remember what those images are supposed to represent?