Semana Santa in Spain

Semana Santa is a very important week in Spain. Even more import than Christmas.
In fact, the Semana Santa is the holy week before Eastern.

Semana Santa
Semana Santa

When is Semana Santa ?

During this week , Spain is very famous for numerous processions and events .
The Semana Santa is the Holy week in Spain.
The Holy week in Christianity, is the last week before Easter .
The Holy week includes religious holidays of Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

Semana Santa is a religious festival

Semana Santa
Semana Santa

Spanish people are very religious.
So for Spanish people in the last week of the life of Jesus Christ is very important.
Processions are especially spectacular. And when you are in Spain ,

it is worth to see one.

Palm Sunday

On palm Sunday the Spanish people bring Palm to the church. There are also parades in the towns.
It is the re acting if Jesus entering Jerusalem after his stay in the desert.

It is the start of the Passion week .  The tale of last supper, the betray of Judas, the crucifixion ……

Good Friday

The good Friday parades are one of penitence.
It is the moment for the participants to  clean them of their sins.

It is a sort of procession, with the sinners bare foot.
Some times they beat them self. The drums give the ritme of the parade.
Different” brotherhoods” transport the life sized statues of each stage of Jesus  crucifixion.
Even when you are not a believer it is dark and intense.
Also it is impressing because every one in the town come to the “nearly funeral” parade.
It start at 11 at night.

The Capirotes

These capirotes are the scary  “sinners”.
They wear often also  tall hat covering their faces  and a gown.
There faces are covered of shame.

Nazareno, Trono, Seata  and Romans

Some of the people participating wear the Nazareno , the penitential robe of medieval origin. They walk in the processions as a sort of penitence.

In other Spanish city’s , the participants  they wear the uniforms similar as the Romans . It is a part of the history of Spain.

Processions are organized throughout the Semana Santa. Certainly the most spectacular are those on Good Friday.

One another element is the throne of trono.
It is a kind of platform, with many ornaments and flowers. Each brotherhood of a church in the city has one. 

The trono is very heavy.  Some with a weight of more than 4000 kilograms.
As already mention, on the throne there are sculptures with the scenes from the Passion.
The ” Passion week ” means the suffering of Jesus Christ before and during the Crucifixion.

Drums and trumpets

Nearly always the procession are accompanied by music. Mostly drums and trumpets.
In some processions  you can hear singing.
This singing of seata is a very old traditional Spanish song.

So, hundreds of local people are gather ar night and watch the processions of Semana Santa .
Mostly to applaud for their own “brotherhoods” with the members.

But lately , more and more tourist come to the processions .
So it become a point of national tourist interest  in Spain. Like in Sevilla or Malaga or Lorca or Cartagena.
Where thousands are gathered to see the processions of the Holy week .

What is a palm ornament on Palm Sunday ?

First, many family in Spain are really artisans .
Because, they  weave the traditional palm leaves for the Easter celebration.
The most of them,  who make this ornaments, start already working in december.

So, it is really  a unique ancestral tradition, who goes from mother to child. They pass it to the next generation.

As you can see, it is also a part of the Spanish culture. They use a white palm, and it is a protected sort of palm tree .

On Palm Sunday, you can see thousands of this white palms. Of course thanks to the work of this family artisans.

In fact, stalls selling the while palms are mostly situated nearby the church but also on the local market  the days before the Passon week.

Romans in the Easter parade

In some processions in the south of Spain , you can see Romans. For example in Cartagena and Orihuela .

Read more about this on our webpage Romans at the Semana Santa .

Monas de Pasqua

Eastern is for us , Northern people, chocolate eggs.

Instead in Spain they  got ” Monas de Pasqua”.
It is a sort of cake  in a loop  with toppings on it.

Some times a hard boiled egg  in the middle.
Often the cakes are completely covered with chocolate.
It is very delicious and very bad for you calories.

To conclude the Semana Santa

In brief, the Semana Santa parades are an authentic unique Spanish event. Even when you are not a religious is really worth a  visit.

They are more than a religious event.
Indeed, there are
an exceptional cultural event and a part of the Spanish heritage.

Spanish traditions

One of the most popular Spanish traditions is the ” Los Reyes”.

“Los Reyes” one of the many Spanish traditions.

In Spain, January the 6 is the equivalent of our Christmas and Saint Nicolas.
On the night before, the 5th of January most Spanish tons and city’s have their parades of the ” Los Reyes”.
This parades marks the arrival of the very popular kings. This three kings are  Melchior, Balthazar and Caspar. Every where there are processions and parades in the main streets with sweets or ” dulces” thrown to the children. For the children is is a magic night.

Spanish traditions Los Reyes
Spanish traditions Los Reyes

After the parade the children  and their parents go home. They place their shoes  nearby the windows.
They fill the shoes full with straw and carrots for the donkeys. Like our children do with Santa Claus .
The morning after, the 6 January,  the children receive their presents from the Three Kings. At least , when they are good children.
When they have been bad: a sack of  coal.
It is the day of ” Los Reyes “. It is an official day of. The large Spanish family  are coming together. The eat lamb and final  a ” Roscon de Reyes”. This cake is a round crown, full of dried fruit and nuts.Inside the crown , the pastry there is a little hidden gift. Indeed a little lucky charm.
The one has the hidden gift  in his  / her portion  will have good luck not for one day but the  entire year.

Spanish traditions Roscon de Reyes
Spanish traditions Roscon de Reyes

Also chocolate and ” turron” are very popular.

See also our page gastronomy at Costa Blanca

The day after the Three Kings starts the sales in Spain. The Spaniards call them” Rebajas”.
Many shops have already reduction on their stocks the days before. Buy two, get one free.

Turron a very sweet  Spanish traditions.

Turron is the most popular Christmas and New year treat.
It has been popular for ages.
During the month of december, it is sold nearly everywhere  in the shops across Spain.

Spanish traditions Turron
Spanish traditions Turron

For Spaniards no Christmas of New Year is complete without the sweet tradition.

Even when there are living in other country’s.
It is also a treat on the evening of “Los Reyes”, the 5th of January.

There are two sorts of Turron. Turron Blando and Turron Duro. The first  is soft, sweet and nutty. The other is also sweet but is hard. I like the Blando , soft and toffee-like. My husband prefers the hard one and brittle.
The color of the Turron is very different. We have seen white but also brown.  The colors depend from the ingredients= honey, egg and almonds.
Some add fruit, other more eggs, other chocolate.
Now, you can find Turron flavored ice, I like it ! My friends found Turron liqueur.

In the past, the Moors were responsible for the invention of Turron. They brought their original recipe for Turron from Africa and the Middle East.
For instance, in the Alicante region, there are many almonds trees. In the wild there are many flowers  and herbs such as lavender, thyme, or rosemary. This flowering herbs  attracts the bees, who create a wonderfully honey.

Grapes on New year eve another Spanish traditions.

Another Spanish tradition on new year Eve  are the grapes. The grapes are sold every where at  the  supermarket the market. In nice bags , in tins. Some are peeled, other natural
At the strike of the  clock of midnight, you have to eat  one of the grapes.
In fact, by the time  the clock finished his 12 stroke you have eaten all 12 of them.
We can assure you , it is not so easy. So if you do, you will have luck for the following 12 months . Indeed 12 grapes, one for each month. But sweet grapes are a sign for a good month , sour grapes a sign for a not so good month.
We think that very few  manage to eat them all. Our mouth was really full. And we did try to swallow them all.

In the past, this  Spanish tradition  starts by the vine growers in the  Alicante province.

Besides, many towns and city’s  have a party on the beach with firework.
In short, there is a great atmosphere, with many bottles of cava to celebrate  the New Year.

Fire work is believed to scare away evil spirits.

Spanish traditions
Spanish traditions

Another Spanish tradition : Semana Santa.

Spain is very famous for the events and the processions held during the Holy week or Semana Santa.  This Holy week is the week before Easter .
Spanish people are very religious.
The Semana Santa includes the Palm Sunday , the Holy  Thursday and Good Friday.
Many shops are even closed.
It does snot include the Easter Sunday.

Spanish traditions Nazarenos
Spanish traditions Nazarenos

In fact, the processions in the Spanish city’s and towns are very spectacular.
Some people are even afraid, because the participants  of the procession wear the famous ” nazareno” of the penitential robe. This tunic has a conical-shaped hood. This hood is used to hide the face of the person who is wearing the ” nazareno “. Sometimes the walk barefoot as a form of penance .
The origin of the robe is medieval.

Spanish traditions semana santa
Spanish traditions semana santa

In the procession, beside the “nazarenos” some wear the uniform similar to those of the soldiers of the Roman period.
The Spanish traditions of the Semana Santa  have history of over 500 years.
Throughout Spain, holy processions are organized.
Typical are also the “trono” or a sort off platform with many religious ornaments.
This “trono ” is full with sculptures with scenes from the Passion. The Passion in the Holy week is the suffering of Christ before and during  his Crucifixion.

Spanish traditions Trono
Spanish traditions Trono

The procession is accompanied by music ” the seata”. It is a very old Spanish tradition, religious song.

In sum , seeing a procession in the Holy week is a very spectacular events for the visitors.

Feria de Abril

Spanish traditions Feria de Abril
Spanish traditions Feria de Abril

Two weeks later, after Semana Santa or Holy week , it is the Feria de Abril. A week of party and parades.
In the past , it starts in Andalusia and Sevilla.
Now, the Feria the Abril come more and more popular in the other parts of Southern Spain.
People in Andalusia like a good party.
In Sevilla the Feria de Abril had grown into the city’s largest annual fiesta. People from over the world come to see the beautiful costumes at the April Fair .
There are all sort of attractions. There is a fairground, singers , dancers, typical rides with horses.

Sevillas

Women and men are beautiful dressed. The women wear their beautiful flamenco dresses. And the men their traditional suits. The woman really look spectacular in their traditional sevillanas dress.
They not only look superb, they dance also superb “the sevillanas” , the famous Flamenco dancing.
The birthplace of Flamenco is in Andalusia , more specific in Sevilla.
In the past, the colorful dresses of the women were known as gypsies dresses.
There are performances by different dance academy and ballet group specialist in Flamenco.
In the evening  you can participate at several concerts by Flamenco singers.
There are also horseback parades. It is really worth to see the procession with the beautiful horses and the colorful dresses.  Horses and Carriages pass trough the fair.

Casetas or bars

During this week , the participants have to eat and drink to ! Most of the bars ” casetas” are fully equipped  with kitchen, bar and a music system. So that is the place to be for typical Spanish cuisine : tapa tasting . But some of them are private. Indeed, only for friends and family of the owner.
Otherwise, there are many public casetas also.
In the morning, you can tasting  another specialty : the Churros and the chocolate  in the many little bars.

Of course there is also a floral offering to the local Virgin.That is the moment of a procession from the fairground  to place of “Nuestra Senora del Virgin” at the local church. This procession, is with the participation of local brotherhoods and horses and carriages.
At the end of the Feria the Abril , there is mostly a spectacular fire work.

The first time we visited a Feria de Abril forty years ago, it was sensational. And it still is.

When you are at the South of the Costa Blanca, it is worth a visit when you like to party, to eat and to drink. Who not ?