Spanish Culture & Semana Santa


The end of the semester is quickly approaching and my time in Salamanca, Spain has dwindled to a month. Though there are festivals and holidays celebrated year-round, the spring months bring opportunities to experience a huge part of Spanish culture.

The banners of each of the processions hung in the Plaza Mayor during Semana Santa.

Spain is a traditionally Catholic country. Thus, Roman Catholicism has a large influence on the traditions and culture. One of these influences is during Semana Santa or the week leading up to Easter. A part of the Semana Santa ceremonies includes processions put on by different groups in the community. The groups usually carry a banner to identify themselves and a band to play music that the other group members march to. As you line the route with the other members of the city, you can smell the incense and hear the crowd start to clap as the large statues of religious icons are carried by.

One of the processions entering the Plaza Mayor with a large cross decorated with flowers. The men carrying it walked for over 2 hours before arriving at the plaza.

I had the opportunity of experiencing the Easter Sunday ceremony. It was unlike anything I’ve ever seen and very different than the Easter egg hunt my family has in our backyard. All of the processions walked the street and met each other in the middle of the city- the Plaza Mayor. There were hundreds of people watching the floats arrive with colorful flowers and listening to the sounds of the large drums play.

The bands in each procession had people of all ages playing various instruments.
A few procession leaders guide young members of the group throughout the Plaza Mayor.

The celebration was one of the most unique things I’ve seen since my arrival in Spain. It is nice to see how different cultures celebrate different events. Whether big or small, the celebrations reflect personal traditions important to those doing them. What are some unique traditions you have? Why are they special to you?

Victoria Gonzalez
Classmates Connecting Cultures
Salamanca, Spain
Spring 2012

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