Sunday, 9 March 2014

Seville is gearing up for Semana Santa

Semana Santa, or Holy Week is one of the biggest celebrations in Seville. But what happens exactly during this fiesta? From the stories and descriptions of people and other pieces of information I’m slowly putting it together in my head.

It is basically a penance procession where every brotherhood in Seville slowly carries their decorated floats (pasos) with a statue of Virgin Mary and/or Jesus on top from their parish church and walk to the Cathedral and back. This might not seem like much but if you consider that Seville has around 60 churches and they all have to do the procession within a week then you can imagine the importance of the event. And I haven’t even mentioned the brass bands, the hundreds of Nazarenos who are all wearing the famous pointy hat, the songs, the candles or the palm leaves that decorate the balconies. I was told there will be Nazareno children and donkeys involved, too. All this in a true Andalusian style. Now that’s what I call proper chaos!

We spotted the first sign of the fiesta during the January sales. We saw a life size paper Nazareno in a department store that advertised its outfits. Obviously I got all excited and dragged Paul up to the third floor and after desperately looked around to find them I asked somebody who finally pointed us to the right direction. My eyes lit up when I saw all the different dresses and accessories.

You can get the iconic pointy hat made to measure for your head, the templates are all ready to be tried on.

You can even get a guide for children with more than 200 stickers inside! I flipped through one and was really tempted to buy one but Paul gave me an ‘Edit, grow up!’-look so I slowly put it back on the shelf.

Seems like you have to buy the shoes, the bag and other small things, too, to look the part.

A few days ago we noticed a sign on a balcony that is available for hire (!) for the event.

In the centre the shops’ decorations are slowly transforming, following along the theme. In the windows of the bookshops more and more books appear with titles like ‘My first Semana Santa’ and the likes. You can build your own paso with the Nazarenos, too. How cool!

Next up on the list is this sweet shop. Its decoration consists of cakes shaped as a paso and white-clad Nazarenos made of bonbons holding thin, real wax candles!

To top it all, on the weekend Paul came across a group of people practicing carrying a paso on one of the squares in Seville. It wasn’t an actual paso, they used heavy bricks to imitate the weight. There were 40 costaleros wearing the distinctive paso-bearing headdress. They were quite an interesting sight as they are all hidden underneath the float which in a big crowd might seem like it moves by itself!

Bring on Semana Santa!

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