Tag Archives: Good Friday

Semana Santa (Holy Week) (3) The Pasos

The major cities of Andalucia, such as Seville and Malaga, have processions each day from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday.  Smaller towns have just two, on Maunday Thursday and Good Friday.  Processions often take place during both the day and the evening.  The onset of darkness in the evenings contributes significantly to the eeriness of the atmosphere.

Obviously the number and size of the floats varies considerably from place to place, but there will always be pasos representing the weeping Virgin Mother and Christ (not always on the Cross).  Because a procession brings together several fraternities there are sometimes different interpretations of the same theme  –  as with the Virgin Mary pasos below.

The occasion is invariably solemn and the tension is heightened by the persistent, almost sinister, beat of the drum, the intermittent piercing sound of bugles, and perhaps the performance of a saeta (a solo religious song, an emotional cry resembling flamenco music).

The photos for today and yesterday were taken in Ibiza Town.  Semana Santa falls outside the tourist season.  In Ibiza it is celebrated in a modest and intimate manner.

This first paso pictured below is an important one in the procession.  Notice the shafts by which it is being carried on the shoulders of the penitents.  Although it looks fairly large, it is small compared with the pasos of Malaga and Seville which can weigh several tons and require scores of bearers (‘costaleros’).  Note, too, the use of aromatic flowers and candles to decorate the paso.  The character on the right, facing the paso, determines when it is necessary to rest.

This is a paso of the Virgin Mother belonging to a different fraternity.

Notice that the cross-bearer is walking barefoot as an act of penance.  This takes considerable courage on the cobbles and rough road surfaces of Ibiza Town.

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Semana Santa III Seville and Malaga

The processions in the larger cities of Andalucia, such as Seville, Malaga, Cordoba and Jaen, are far removed in character from the modest offerings of the smaller towns.  They are spectacular events and attract crowds in their thousands both from within Spain and further afield.

Seville alone has 105 cofradias and 55 pasos.  In addition to the minor processions during the week, the major processions set out from their 60 or so ‘home’ churches in the suburbs on Maunday Thursday and plan to arrive at the cathedral on the dawn of Good Friday.

 In Malaga the pasos are monumental and in some cases have to be assembled outside their churches because they are too large to pass through the doorway.  Many weigh more than a ton and some around 5 tons.  They are carried by between 24 -54 bearers (‘hombres de trono’), many of whom are hidden from view by a large curtain so that the paso appears to be floating.  The pasos are decorated with silver candelabra, richly embroidered robes and enormous numbers of aromatic flowers.  The ‘Virgen de las Penas’ is clad with more than 20000 carnations.  The number of participants is huge and it is not unusual for a procession to take 1½ hours to pass a particular point.  Spectators look on from balconies along the route and special stands (‘tribunas’) are erected.

 The bugles and drums of the smaller processions are replaced by bands.  Standard bearers and a few other key personnel wear brocaded tunics.  The senoras and senoritas following the major pasos wear mantillas (ornate black lace headdresses) and black dresses.

Madonna paso. Seville

 

Christ on the Cross

 

The standard bearers

 

Brocaded tunics

 

Senior penitents

 

Young recruite join the tradition

 

 

 

Let me light your candle

 

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Semana Santa II The Floats (‘pasos’)

The major cities of Andalucia, such as Seville and Malaga, have processions each day from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday.  Smaller towns have just two, on Maunday Thursday and Good Friday.  Processions often take place during both the day and the evening.  The onset of darkness in the evenings contributes significantly to the eeriness of the atmosphere.

Obviously the number and size of the floats varies considerably from place to place, but there will always be pasos representing the weeping Virgin Mother and Christ (not always on the Cross).  Because a procession brings together several fraternities there are sometimes different interpretations of the same theme  –  as with the Virgin Mary pasos below.

The occasion is invariably solemn and the tension is heightened by the persistent, almost sinister, beat of the drum, the intermittent piercing sound of bugles, and perhaps the performance of a saeta (a solo religious song, an emotional cry resembling flamenco music).

The photos for today and yesterday were taken in Ibiza Town.  Semana Santa falls outside the tourist season.  In Ibiza it is celebrated in a modest and intimate manner.

This first paso pictured below is an important one in the procession.  Notice the shafts by which it is being carried on the shoulders of the penitents.  Although it looks fairly large, it is small compared with the pasos of Malaga and Seville which can weigh several tons and require scores of bearers (‘costaleros’).  Note, too, the use of aromatic flowers and candles to decorate the paso.  The character on the right, facing the paso, determines when it is necessary to rest.

This is a paso of the Virgin Mother belonging to a different fraternity.

Notice that the cross-bearer is walking barefoot as an act of penance.  This takes considerable courage on the cobbles and rough road surfaces of Ibiza Town.

 

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Semana Santa I. The Penitents (‘nazarenos’)

For Spaniards a particularly important week in the year is Semana Santa  –  Holy Week.  In a tradition dating back to medieval times, floats (‘pasos’) comprising sculptured representations of biblical scenes are carried shoulder high through the streets of most cities and towns.  The floats are accompanied by penitents (or ‘nazarenos’) wearing inverted cone-shaped headgear (‘capriote’) with a hood into which eye holes are cut enabling the wearer to see but not be identified.  The procession moves at a very steady pace in time with the rhythmic beat of a muffled drum.  Every few minutes there is a pause to allow the bearers of the float (the ‘costaleros’) to relax their shoulders.                                                                                                                                                                                                           

The processions are organised by religious fraternities (‘cofradias’) and brotherhoods.  The robes worn by the penitents differ in colour according to their particular brotherhood.  Some carry candles, rods or banners according to their level of seniority.  The most senior is the president who carries a golden rod.

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