martes, 26 de abril de 2011

Semana Santa in Spain

Hey yall-

So we just finished the Easter holiday here in Spain, and it was quite an experience.  Semana Santa, or "Holy Week" is characterized by a series of processions that happen from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday- about four happen per day.  Sounds nice, right? Parades every day to honor Jesus's sacrifice?  No. NO. no no no. Allow me to explain myself... 

Parcicipants in these parades, which usually include a group of military "people" (not sure the correct term here- officers, civilians, or whatever) marching in uniform, a group of drummers, a group of 40 or 50 men dressed in burlap bags carrying giant statues of the virgin mary, or a crucifixion scene, or something of the like (relics from local parishes- these can way up to 5000 kilos), and "nazarenos"- the majority of those who march.  These nazarenos are usually spanish men whose fathers, grandfathers etc have marched in the semana santa parades (its a great honor to be selected for this role).  They carry any one of the following: torches, huge crosses, giant staffs, or spearlike objects, with which they strike the ground in unison to the slow beat of a loud drum, which creates an earthquake/pending doom sort of environment.  Also, they wear conical headgear and robes (varying colors depending on the Saint of the parade) that inspired the Klu Klux Klan's outfits.  Wikipedia says "inspired"...but the outfits are the exact same.  These parades happen at night, with fire, loud drums, chanting, women crying (grieving over Jesus's loss) and... candy.  The "nazarenos" (KKK members) actually hand out candy to little kids in the audience to try to make the event less frightening.  Some of the parades are silent and last until 2am.  I have attached a video here of one of the parades on Maundy Thursday (the saddest day of the week)...hopefully yall will understand why I'm taking such a negative tone toward the festivities.  Speaking truthfully though, they are very moving experiences.  The entire town leaves their houses and heads to the barrio (old area in Alicante's city center) to watch the processions, and everyone seems to really feel the emotion of the event, despite being a country of largely nonpracticing Catholics.  The parades move very slowly, and the participants take pride in their roles- which have existed for centuries.  Alicante's processions aren't as well known as Sevilla's, but we escaped much of the rain that the East coast of Spain received and had the majority of our parades.

Interestingly enough, after all of this buildup, there aren't any processions on Easter Sunday.  My madre spent the day watching her usual 6 hrs of TV.  Monday (yesterday) was a holiday too and all of the stores were closed.  I guess Spaniards need a day of rest after all of that marching. 

Hope all is well at home and much love-


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