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Wednesday, March 12, 2008 (read 2583 times)
 

Holy week (Semana Santa) in Spain

by Celine

Holy week, known in Spanish as Semana Santa, is a very important holiday and national tradition in Spain. Year after year, each and every village proudly enjoys the beauty and mystery of Semana Santa. For seven days, the country stops to remember the last week of the earthly life of Jesus Christ which ended in his crucifixion on Good Friday (Viernes Santo) and his resurrection on Easter Sunday (domingo de resurección). Some cities like Seville, Malaga and Cadiz see the most glamorous celebrations, while others, mainly cities of Castilla y Leon, have more sombre and solemn celebrations.

One thing that these two kinds of celebrations have in common in Spain is the use of the "nazareno " or penitential robe in the Processions (religious parades). This garment usually consists in a cloak , a tunic, and a hood with conical tip called a "capirote ", which is used to hide the face of the wearer. These same robes were widely used in the medieval times for penitents, so that they could demonstrate their penance while still masking their identity. Unfortunately, it is sometimes shocking to foreigners to see these robes in a religios procession because the robes have been intentionally used as the uniform "costumes" of the KKK in the United States, which is ironically a very anti-Catholic organization…

During the Semana Santa procession, these "nazarenos " walk down the street usually barefoot, carrying processional candles or wooden crosses. In some places they even carry shackles and chains on their feet as penance. They are also accompanied by a float with a sculptured representation of a biblical scene carried through the city with maximum seriousness, grace and tradition. Even if you are not religious, it is difficult not to be moved, the atmosphere is so vital and poignant. For some it is a fun filled fiesta time, for others a week of ritual and reflection.

Some Spanish words to learn about Semana Santa:

  • Procesión - Procession. Listen to the pronunciation of this word in Spanish: procesión.
  • Viernes Santo - Good Friday
  • Domingo de Resurrección/ Domingo de Pascua - Easter Sunday
  • Nazareno - Each of the people participating in the Holy week processions, also the typical gargement. Listen to the pronunciation of this word in Spanish: nazareno
  • Cofradía - Groups and associations of people who participate in the processions. Listen to this word in Spanish: Cofradía.
  • Capirote - Conical hat wore by participants in the processions to hide their faces. Listen to the pronunciation of this word in Spanish: capirote.

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Read other posts about Semana Santa


Keywords: holy week,semana santa,spain

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