A Unique Way to Spend a Familiar Holiday

Happy Easter!!! How did everyone celebrate? I’m sure some of you were visited by the Easter bunny or colored Easter eggs!

People in Spain celebrate Easter too!  However, Spain has a slightly different way of doing so.  Spain celebrates the whole week leading up to Easter.  They call this week Semana Santa (Holy Week). Semana Santa is a very special and unique cultural experience in Spain, but especially in Sevilla where a lot of hard work and dedication is put into the processions!  Tons of people from all over Spain and Europe come to Sevilla to just see them.

So what exactly is Semana Santa?

Great question!!!

Semana Santa is of a series of parades throughout Sevilla during the week leading up to Easter Sunday.  The parades are organized by different churches, but all of them have certain characteristics in common:

1. Brotherhoods.  A Brotherhood is a group of people within a church dedicated to organizing and preparing the processions for Semana Santa. Anyone who is baptized can join the brotherhood. (Baptism is when a person spiritually belongs to a church.)  In addition to their important role in Semana Santa, the Brotherhoods are also charitable organizations that help the community throughout the rest of the year.

2. Nazarenos. The “brothers” of the Brotherhood have different options of how they can participate in Semana Santa.  Some choose to participate as Nazarenos.  Nazarenos are people who dress up in traditional costume and lead the processions; they are the first part of the parade that you see!  Each Brotherhood and church wears a different colored robe.  Nazarenos carry large candles or wooden crosses.  People of all ages can walk as nazarenos, even children.  In fact, the children often hand out candy during the processions!


3. Pasos. The pasos are the center of the whole procession.  Pasos are very large, detailed floats that show images of Jesus and the Virgin Mary.  The pasos are often very old and made of wood so they are taken care of very carefully!!!

Paso of the Virgin Mary

4. Los Costaleros.  (The bearers). Los Costaleros are the people underneath the paso or the float.  They carry the float throughout the streets.  The bearers carry the weight on their neck by wearing a wrap around their head that supports the paso; they also use their arm strength.  Only men are allowed to be Costaleros.

Costaleros underneath the paso.

There are many men underneath this float and that is how it is moving along the street.  They are so strong!

5. Bands. Nearly every paso is followed by a band.  The band plays religious music so the people in the processions can maintain a rhythm.

And that’s a Spanish procession for Semana Santa! It was definitely unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.  Semana Santa is an old tradition that the people of Sevilla and tourists both love! I’m so glad I was able to experience it!

Breck Scarnavack
Classmates Connecting Cultures
Sevllia, Spain
Spring 2012

5 thoughts

  1. Great photos, Breck! We love seeing videos on the ISA Student Blog – maybe we’ll see more before you leave Sevilla?

    P.S. Is Quique the man or what?

  2. Thanks so much! Definitely look forward to seeing more videos from Sevilla before I leave!!!
    Quique is the man! I’m definitely a huge fan of all of my Sevilla directors. They are buena gente!

  3. Hi Breck,
    Those pictures truly are amazing! We loved learning about the different ways Spaniards celebrate Easter. Thanks for sharing with us!
    Mrs. Samaniego’s class

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