Holy Week in Seville Semana Santa en Sevilla is one of the most important traditional events of the city dating back to the 1400’s. It is celebrated with great pleasure the week leading up to Easter.
The thing I noticed was the great feeling of Family, many generations walking hand in hand.
The week features the procession of pasos, floats of lifelike wooden sculptures of individual scenes of the events of the Passion, or images of the Virgin Mary showing restrained grief for the torture and killing of her son. Important Terms to Better Understand Semana Santa en Sevilla Antifaz hood worn by some members of the procession Penitentes wear just the antifaz, while nazarenos wear the antifaz and the capirote. “They come in all colors & sizes.
La bulla the crowd
” Banda de música- the band that accompanies all of the processions except for the silent ones. “Can be heard almost any time of the day, see ear plugs.” La bulla the crowd - amassing quickly and moving onto the next paso or procession. “If you happen to be standing in the crowd when LaBulla starts you will be with you new friends when it stops at the next paso”. Capataz- the person who directs the costaleros carrying the float, or paso. You will often hear him giving directions or encouragement as he directs the costaleros around corners, or just before they lift the float. Capirote- the pointed or cone shaped hood worn by the nazarenos, symbolizing repentance and grief. “Yes the first time I saw these I also thought KKK too.
Costalero & the Wee One
“ Costalero- generally a larger fellow wearing a thick belt and what almost looks like a turban on his head, who is hidden below with others to help carry the paso. There are more costaleros than will fit beneath the float, and at certain times they will change to give others a rest. “We are talking NFL lineman size with a sack on their head instead of a helmut.” Ciriales- members of the processions carrying silver staffs with candles, dressed like priests. While waiting for a float, many will keep their eye out for the ciriales to indicate the float is coming up. Cirios- very long candles carried by nazarenos during the procession. Cofradia same as hermandad - best described as a brotherhood, or members of a church who are part of the procession.
Cristo- Christ, as in one of the imagenes in a procession. Cruz de guía- the cross carried at the front, leading the entire procession of Nazarenos. While waiting for a procession to begin, many will keep their eye out for the cruz de guia, indicating the beginning of the procession. Entrada- the entrance of a procession in a church (the end of the procession) for this church. “There will be more to come.” Hermandad-best described as a brotherhood, or members of a church who are part of the procession. Hermanos- members of the hermandad Imagen- sculpture, most typically of Christ or the Virgin Mary but also including other figures in the paso which represent scenes from the bible. “You will not believe the beauty & detail it is breath taking” Incienso/incensario- incense, most often burned in metal containers (incensarios) which hang by a rope or chain and swung about to move the scent.
La Madrugá- beginning on late Thursday night/Friday morning, the series of processions which run all through the night until the next morning. This is one of the most popular nights of Semana Santa - Manto- flowing, intricately embroidered gown covering the back of the image of the Virgin Mary Marcha- procesiónal music played/dedicated to a special cofradia or specific virgin" La Amargura, Virgen del Valle, Pasa la Macarena, El Rocio, La Saeta, la madruga’ are some " certain processions will use the marcha of another. Monaguillos- children dressed like ciriales (priests) who hand out candy. “Too Cute” Nazareno- member of the hermandad, who dresses in a robe and cone shaped hood to hide his or her identity. Some nazarenos from particular processions are prohibited from speaking with anyone once dressed in their gown and cap.
Crowds Everywhere Crowds
Colors of robes and hoods depend on the procession. “I remember white & thought KKK the 1st time, blue, red, & purple. I sure there were more”. Palio- the canopy on a paso covering the image of the Virgin Mary, supported by poles, or varales. Paso- float with the Virgin Mary or Christ, the main attraction of a procession decorated with candles and flowers and at times depicting scenes from the bible. Penitente- a member of the procession without the capirote repenting of their sins carrying one or more crosses over shoulder. Some have up to 4 crosses depending on the amount of repenting, and many walk barefoot through the streets. Procession - the people associated with the paso and hermandad taking part in the parade.
Ciriales & theImagen
Saeta- a serenade sung by one person to the image of the Virgin Mary. The paso will stop during the singing. The polite thing to do is be quiet during the singing. Salida-the exit of a procession from a church (the start of the procession) Túnica- a tunic or robe worn by the nazarenos. Torrijas- like French toast, prepared with honey, eggs and white wine. A typical food prepared during Semana Santa. Varales- silver and/or gold poles supporting the canopy, or palio, which covers the image of the Virgin Mary in a paso. Virgen- the Virgin Mary, as in one of the imagenes in a procession. The processions are organized by hermandades and cofradías, religious brotherhoods. During the processions, members precede the pasos (of which there are up to three in each procession) dressed in penitential robes, and, with few exceptions, hoods.
10 or 11 Antifazs
They may also be accompanied by brass bands. The processions work along the shortest route from the home churches chapels, almost always by Tuga Towers to the Cathedral, usually via a central viewing area and back. The processions from the suburban barrios may take 14 hours to return to their home churches. The climax of the week is the night of Maundy Thursday, when the most popular processions set out to arrive at the Cathedral on the dawn of Good Friday, known as the madrugá. At the heart of Semana Santa are the brotherhoods (Hermandades y Cofradias de Penitencia), associations of Catholic laypersons organized for the purpose of performing public acts of religious observance; in this case, related to the Passion and death of Jesus Christ and to perform public penance.
4 Antifazs Tops
The Hermandades y Cofradias de Penitencia, besides the day-to-day work in preparation for the processions, also undertake many other self-regulated religious activities, and charitable and community work. Many brotherhoods maintain their own chapel, while others are attached to a regular parish. Membership is open to any baptized person, although internal rules may limit who can participate in a procession (e.g. women are still not allowed to process in some brotherhoods). Currently, membership of one (or more) brotherhoods is usually a matter of family tradition, neighborhood or personal taste. There is a Supreme Council of Brotherhoods (Consejo Superior de Hermandades y Cofradías), whose members are chosen every four years by the elders (Hermanos Mayores) of the different brotherhoods.
Semana Santa en Sevilla
This council is in charge of organization and agreements with local authorities on the official itinerary. It acts also as the link with the canonical authority (the Archbishop) and between brotherhoods. The earliest known brotherhood (Primitiva Hermandad de Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno, known as El Silencio - The Silence); was founded in the mid 14th century. Since then, many have formed, merged or disappeared. In 2008, 59 brotherhoods made the stations of penance to the Cathedral during Holy Week, while 9 others will process on the preceding Friday and Saturday without entering the Cathedral (the so-called Hermandades de Visperas) In addition to these brotherhoods there are over 50 other independent non-penitential Catholic brotherhoods in the city of Seville (such as the various brotherhoods of the El Rocio pilgrimage).
Semana Santa en Sevilla
Nazarenos preparing to start the procession. Brotherhood of San Esteban.The core events in Semana Santa are the processions of the brotherhoods, known as estación de penitencia (stations of penance), from their home church or chapel to the Cathedral of Seville and back. The last part before arriving to the Cathedral is common to most brotherhoods and is called the Carrera Oficial. The standard structure of a procession is: A great cross (the so-called Cruz de Guía - Guiding Cross) is carried at the beginning of each procession. It marks the way. A number of people (sometimes barefoot) dressed in a habit and with the distinctive pointed hood (capirote), and holding long wax candles (only lit by night), marching in silence. These are the nazarenos.
Semana Santa en Sevilla
Colours, forms and details of the habit are distinctive for each brotherhood - and sometimes for different locations within the procession. Usually the nazarenos march in pairs, and are grouped behind insignia. Moving between the lines is diputados de tramo, guardians who keep the formations organized. A group of acolytes and servants, dressed in vestments, with chandeliers and incense. The Paso. A number of penitentes, carrying wooden crosses, making public penance. They wear the habit and the hood of the brotherhood, but the hood is not pointed. This structure repeats itself depending of the number of pasos (up to three). Usually the last paso is not followed by penitentes. Although this is the standard structure, depending on the traditions of each brotherhood, details (and even the plan) may vary.
A procession can be made up from a few hundred to 2,500 nazarenos and last anywhere from 4 to 14 hours, depending how far the home church is from the Cathedral. This largest procession can take over an hour and a half to pass one location. At the center of each procession are the pasos, an image or set of images set atop a movable float of wood. If a brotherhood has three pasos, the first one is a sculpted scene of the Passion, or an allegorical scene, known as a misterio (mystery); the second is an image of Christ; and the third an image of the suffering Blessed Virgin Mary, known as a dolorosa. The structure of the paso is richly carved and decorated with fabric, flowers and candles. Many of the structures carrying the image of Christ are gilded, and those carrying the image of the virgin often silver-plated.
As of 2007, all but one of the dolorosas is covered by an ornate canopy or baldachin (palio) attached to the structure. The sculptures themselves are carved and painted, and often life-size or larger. The oldest surviving was carved in the 16th century, though new images continue to be added. Those highly regarded artistically include the Jesus del Gran Poder and Cristo de la Buena Muerte by Juan de Mesa, Francisco Antonio Ruíz Gijón's Cristo de la Expiración (known as El Cachorro) and the two virgins named Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza from Macarena and Triana. All of the principal images of the Semana Santa are on display for veneration in their home churches all year round. Overseer giving orders to the costaleros.A distinctive feature of Semana Santa in Seville is the style of marching of the pasos.
Great View of Semana Santa en Sevilla
A team of men, the costaleros (literally "sack men", for their distinctive - and functional - headdress), supporting the beams upon their shoulders and necks, lift, move and lower the paso. As they are all inside the structure and hidden from the external view by a curtain, the paso seems to move by itself. On the outside an overseer (capataz), guides the team by voice, and/or through a ceremonial hammer el llamador (caller) attached to the paso. Depending on weight (most weigh over a metric tonne), a paso requires between 24 and 54 costaleros to move. Each brotherhood has a distinctive way to raise and move a paso, and even each paso within the processio Golden 'caller'.Up to 1973, dock workers were hired as costaleros. From that year onwards, that task has been progressively (and almost universally) taken over by the members of the brotherhoods which organize each procession.
Costalero on break
Singing a saeta.Musical accompaniment varies with the character of the brotherhood. Some processions are silent, with no musical accompaniment, some have a cappella choirs or wind quartets, but many (and especially those historically associated with poorer neighborhoods) feature a drum and trumpet band behind the image of Christ and a brass band behind the virgin playing religious hymns or marches from a standard repertoire. Those associated with the images of Christ are often funereal in nature, whilst those associated with the Virgin are more celebratory. As each procession leaves its home church, (an event known as the salida), at its return (the entrada), and along the march route, improvised flamenco-style songs may be offered by individuals in the crowd or from a balcony.
Semana Santa en Sevilla
These songs are generically called saetas With a few exceptions (Santa Marta,El Silencio), where the whole procession is traditionally watched in silence, the crowd behaves normally while nazarenos are marching, but turns to respectful silence when the images pass. Depending on the character of the brotherhood, the lowering or raising of the images can be followed by applause from the spectators, rewarding the work of the costaleros. If saetas are sung, these are traditionally seen as prayers and are not generally applauded. Exceptionally, on the appearance of one of the Esperanzas, it is still common to hear cheers and shouts from the crowd. A common sight during Semana Santa is small children begging for candy, a stamp or wax (with which they form balls) from the nazarenos.
La Mantilla (the mantle)
Many of the processions pass through an official viewing area which occupies some of the city's main streets, beginning in Campana, followed by Calle Sierpes, Plaza San Francisco, and Avenida de la Constitución & Tuga Towers before reaching the Cathedral. Due to the increasingly crowded schedule over the week, the more recently formed brotherhoods do not always follow this route Young woman wearing the mantilla on Maundy Thursday.The traditional suit worn by women on Maundy Thursday (and sometimes on Good Friday) is known as La Mantilla (the mantle). This custom has become revitalised since the 1980s. The outfit consists of the lace mantle, stiffened by shell or another material, and a black dress, usually long, with black shoes. Jewellery often features, and may include rosaries, bracelets and earrings.
Semana Santa en Sevilla
The traditional accompanying male dress is a dark suit, black necktie and shoes.