2- What You Need to Know About Seville´s Semana Santa
What exactly is Semana Santa Seville?
Semana Santa, also known as Holy Week, is a week-long holiday in Seville which includes the celebration of Easter. A Spaniard tradition that dates back to 16th century, Semana Santa takes place each year between Palm Sunday and Easter Monday.
What happens during holy week in Seville ?
The focal point of easter week celebrations are the poles, or floats, which carry richly decorated statues of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary, as well as lovingly staged scenes from the Passion of Christ, known as mysteries.
Brass bands provide the spectacle with an austere soundtrack, with shrill trumpets wailing over the dull thud of drums, and the combined effect is one that often reduces adults to tears of repentance and adoration.
From the balconies, local singers perform emotionally charged saetas, tributes to the Virgin Mary.
Seville’s processions are world-famous and cultural religious place. “El Gran Poder” is one of the most famous images of the Sevillian Holy Week, an event that was declared a Festival of International Tourist Interest.
These 35 bearers walk along the streets on Good Friday morning, representing the execution of Christ at dawn in Jerusalem and his walk to Calvary.
The procession is one of the longest. The image is made of cedar wood, in a baroque style and wears a purple tunic with gold and stone details. His face carries the weight of the world. His pain and suffering is felt here on Earth.
What are the Cofradias of Seville, fraternities, brotherhoods holy week seville?
A cofradia is a religious brotherhood in Seville, Spain. In the past, during medieval times, every town and city in Spain had their own church brotherhood. Brothers of a church brotherhood would use red wine as their symbol. The word “cofradia” comes from Arabic (كفردة) which means: ;the ones who share something together” when translated into Spanish.
Easter is the time of the year when you always hear about brotherhoods and convents, but do you really know what they are?
Once upon a time, the Fraternities and Confraternities were two different entities. Before us, the Fraternities used to play a very important role in uniting people of all attitudes and origins.
In the meantime, professional associations emerged in order to gather people from a certain profession. Over time, both adopted the cult of a patron saint which represented them and to whom they prayed.
Archconfraternities, on the other hand, are congregations that have more rights. Being older than the others, they directly deserve this distinction. And the power to grant such a title belongs exclusively to the Pope.
For almost a century, Sevilla has rightfully been considered to be one of the best locations in Spain to spend Easter. Don’t miss its tremendous cultural and gastronomical wealth. A good choice for spending these days of leisure amid isolation and artistic richness, which is what this city is known for.
Full list of the ecclesiastical brotherhoods of Semana Santa Seville:
Confraternities that procession during vespers
Friday of Sorrows
- Brotherhood of Pino Montano
- Brotherhood of La Misión
- Brotherhood of Bellavista
- Brotherhood of Passion and Death
- Brotherhood of La Corona
Saturday of Passion
- Brotherhood of Padre Pio
- Brotherhood of Divino Perdón
- Brotherhood of Los Dolores
- Brotherhood of La Milagrosa
- Brotherhood of San José Obrero
Brotherhoods that make their Station of Penitence in the Holy Church Cathedral
- La Borriquita
- Jesus Despojado
- La Paz
- The Supper
- La Hiniesta
- San Roque
- The Star
- The Bitterness
- The Love
- El Cautivo
- El Rocío
- Santa Genoveva
- Santa Marta
- San Gonzalo
- Las Penas
- Las Aguas
- The Museum
- El Cerro
- Los Javieres
- San Esteban
- Los Estudiantes
- San Benito
- La Candelaria
- El Dulce Nombre (La Bofetá)
- Santa Cruz
- Carmen Doloroso
- La Sed (The Thirst)
- San Bernardo
- The Good End
- La Lanzada
- El Baratillo
- Christ of Burgos
- The Seven Words
- The Bakers
- The Negritos
- The Exaltation
- The Cigarreras
- La Quinta Angustia
- The Valley
- El Silencio
- El Gran Poder
- El Calvario
- Esperanza de Triana
- The Gypsies
- La Carretería
- The Solitude of San Buena Ventura
- The Cachorro
- The O
- San Isidoro
- The Sacred Mortaja
- The Sun
- The Servites
- The Trinity
- Holy Burial
- The Solitude of San Lorenzo
- The Resurrection
3- Most important days and parts of the easter week celebrations in Seville ?
Holy Week in Seville (semana Santa de Sevilla) has different parts. Semana Santa has some important parts to follow the processions, here are some of the most essential parts:
Holy Thursday and Good Friday: On Holy Thursday and Good Friday, people visit churches to go to confession or receive communion.
Semana Santa begins on Palm Sunday with a procession of penitents carrying candles through the streets of Seville. The image of Christ’s death is carried by beggars who ask for alms as they make their way from church to church asking for money. In many places, this procession involves a mock execution using wooden crosses; this practice became known as “la ejecucion” (the execution).
Below we list the most essential days and parts of holy week processions :
- Domingo de Ramos (Palm Sunday)
- Lunes Santo (Monday)
- Martes Santo (Tuesday)
- Miercoles Santo (Wednesday)
- Jueves Santo (Thursday)
- La Madrugada (Friday morning)
- Viernes Santo (Friday afternoon)
- Sabado Santo (Saturday)
- Domingo de Resurrección (Easter)
- Semana Santa in Seville
- La Madrugá
- La Saeta
- La Mantilla
Here are a few key spots to see Holy Week in Seville. The arrival and departure of the floats has a particularly special feel, though there are many beautiful places in the city – some spots that should not be missed:
- La Alfalfa
- Las Setas
- El Baratillo
- La Cuesta del Bacalao
- El Postiguillo
- El Puente de Trian
Explanation of The Madrugá
Good Friday is sometimes also referred to as Holy Friday. This name stems from the day commemorating the death of Jesus Christ, who is believed by a majority of Christians to be their savior. Performed once a year, this solemn ritual will deeply move those who witness it.
There are so many different religious brotherhoods parading around in Sevilla at one time that it’s hard to keep track of them all. A few of the most popular ones are El Silencio (meaning “The Silence” and not allowed to speak), El Gran Poder, known as “el Señor de Sevilla,” La Macarena, and
4- The traditional costumes in the Seville Semana Santa
The traditional costumes in Seville’s Semana Santa celebrations are similar to those in the rest of Spain or Andalusia. 2 famous of them are what we call the Capirotes and the Mantilla.
The Capirotes in Semana Santa Seville
The traditional costumes are also beautiful and highly impressive as are the processions during the Semana Santa (Holy Week). Like the cofradías religious brotherhoods who wear a traditional tunic with tall pointed hats called the Capirotes. The word “Capirotes” comes from Arabic, meaning “those who wear a turban”. The Nazarenes are wearing the Capirote, a cardboard cone covered by the antifaz, a cloth that only shows the eyes, so that the Nazarene cannot be identified and acts in an unknown manner.
In addition, not only the Hermandad wears impressive clothes during Semana Santa, but also the women wear fabulous black lace veils called the Mantilla. This traditional costume is usually worn on the Thursday of Holy Week, but sometimes it is also worn on Good Friday.
5- The Music of Holy Week
The music of a cornet and drum band or a musical group must be played behind a paso of a brotherhood.
The pasos of each procession are accompanied by their full band. The brotherhoods carry the most austere chapel music in front of the Christ. It is usually played by instruments such as the oboe, bassoon and sometimes even violins.
Also, throughout La Semana Santa, you will hear, “La Saeta”, a traditional religious song sung during the procession. This emotional and powerful, acapella performance is highlighted by many locals in Seville. To sing the saeta is a sign of honor and only the best local players may perform this timeless tune.
6- Eating at Easter in Seville
A well-known holiday bread, the recipe for which combines bread and honey. Some people add sugar instead of honey, though.
Potaje de vigilia: traditional Easter recipe
Potaje de vigilia are lenten chickpeas with cod and spinach.
Homemade pestiños with honey or sugar
Pestiños are a very popular sweet in Andalusia, eaten at Christmas and Easter for example.
7 – Appreciating the Holy Week Seville with 8 tips
- Take advantage of the week to get to know the sacred acts of Holy Week in Seville.
- Visit the Real Alcazar or Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and admire its Baroque-style beauty.
- Take advantage of the many artistic programmes on offer during these days to discover different aspects of Sevillian culture.
- Taste one or more typical Seville dishes on Easter Sunday (Torrijas, lenten chickpeas with cod and spinach.).
- Bring a folding chair to go in advance. On Easter Monday you can see the Brotherhood of Santa Genoveva from places such as María Luisa Park, Puerta Jerez, Almirantazgo Street and Postigo. This way, you will be able to enjoy the view of the “pasos”.
- The Easter Passion Play is a unique experience that visitors of all ages can enjoy. Children are especially fascinated by its theatricality.. Kids love Easter. But if you go with children NEVER lose sight of the following, especially if they are young.
- Avoid cycling or electric scootering through the streets of Seville during Holy Week, as the city will be at its busiest time and the influx of people can lead to congestion in the streets.
- Beware of pickpockets; do not carry your wallet or handbags in your back pockets or leave them unattended on a chair in a restaurant for example, as pickpockets may try to steal them while you watch a procession of a cofradia in Seville. Pickpockets often take advantage of this type of event and thefts are frequent.
8 – Holy Week Seville Daily schedule
As Easter Week (Semana Santa) and everything surrounding it constitutes a unique universe, here you have a glossary with some of the most frequent words that you’ll hear or read while being here.
9 – Semana Santa activities
- The Viernes de Dolores (10 days before Easter Seville)
- The “Sábado de Pasión” (9 days before Easter)
- The “Domingo de Ramos” (Palm Sunday)
- The “Lunes Santo” (Monday)
- The “Martes Santo” (Tuesday)
- The “Miércoles Santo” (Wednesday)
- The “Jueves Santo” (Maundy Thursday)
- The “Viernes Santo” Madrugada (early morning Good Friday)
- The “Viernes Santo” (Good Friday)
- The “Sábado Santo” (Holy Saturday)
- The “Domingo de Resurrección”.
10 – Glossary of terms
The Processions of Semana Santa holy week
The processions of Semana Santa holy week are the two most important events in the life of a Catholic. They are like Christmas, Easter or any other celebration for that matter. They are both fun and exciting but also very emotional in some cases.
The Easter Week processions and their “pasos”. These religious parades are carried out by the brotherhoods with the intention of emulating Christ’s pain and suffering through public atonement. They are supported by images of diverse suffering that walk on floats throughout the procession.
There are currently more than 60 processions during Holy Week.
The Costalero is the person who carries the “imágenes procesionales” (a dance steps sheet, full of paseos) in a sewing bag stuffed with mallets, which he has to carry on his head and back in order to make sure that everything goes smoothly. They get this name because they carry an overfilled bag on their back.”
Members of the Nazarenos are those people who belong to a brotherhood and who, wearing their cloaks, march in the procession together with images of Christ and the Virgin.
They wear specific garments that make them identifiable as a brother of the order and are carried by one large candle. The tone of the candle depends on which procession they go before
Although in some locations of Spain it is another way of designating the Nazarenes, they are really those people who want to carry the penance to a higher degree, often because they have made a promise and they feel the blood Jesus in their veins like no other. They don’t wear a capirote so their headpiece falls backwards and is not held upright. They carry a heavy cross and go bare-footed too.
No doubt this is one of the most significant features of the Semana Santa, hearing the singing of these Saetas images along their procession.This is a typical religious song that’s performed during Passion Week. The person doing it must have a strong, powerful voice so they can convey the deep emotions of the lyrics. It’s done without music and it sounds like. The throne stops in front of a prayer, or you slow down the pace. You cannot miss this cultural manifestation if you come to Andalusia for Holy Week. It is one of the most emotional moments in processions.
In easter Seville, don’t forget about the water carrier (just one of the many members of the congregation). They’re in charge of bringing much-needed water to everyone. In this heat though, some extra help is always needed.
Las ramas de palma
On Palm Sunday, palm branches are blessed at mass and then used to decorate homes. This tradition dates back to ancient Rome when Romans would plant olive trees near their victory arches.
El Llamador de la Semana Santa
El Llamador is a popular itinerary book of the processions in Seville. It has information on all the brotherhoods, their Nazarenes, their schedule and location.
La Vigilia Pascual
The Holy Week in Spain is accompanied with yet another series of religious festivals & traditions. One of them is the “La Vigilia Pascual”, a temporary abstinence from consuming any meat on Good Friday in respect for the death of Jesus Christ.For this occasion, it is very common to prepare recipes based on cod. Restaurants also offer a special menu for all of those who wish to participate in this tradition.
The most important event during the holy week in Seville is the "Passion Play". It takes place every year on Palm Sunday and lasts for 12 hours. The play is performed by a group of actors that are called "pasos" (passers). They dress up as different characters from the Bible, such as Jesus Christ, Mary Magdalene or Pontius Pilate.
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