April 08, 2012

Happy Easter from Spain

Semana Santa, the week leading up to Easter Sunday (Domingo de Pascua), is a very big week in Spain.

Different "parroquias" (parishes) in every city celebrate the Passion and Resurrection of Christ in long and solemn processions during the whole week. There are special gowns and dresses worn and brass bands play slow marches to the steps of sometimes more than 100 people carrying immense altars with a statue of Jesus on the cross or Holy Mary.

On the sidelines people are often less serious. Hotels everywhere are booked to the limit when loads of tourists flood Seville and are handed schedules where to be at what time. It is a holiday week and the processions are an event that you attend socially. Spaniards sit for hours on their prepared stools and chairs next to the street where the procession will pass, eating "pipas" (sunflower or pumpkin seeds) and chatting with friends. Until finally a big "Aww" spreads across the crowd, when the altar comes into sight around a street corner and people marvel at how beautiful the shrine looks and clap for the people carrying it. Sometimes the procession stops for a while, giving the altar bearers a moment to gather strength again. With a ring of hand bells the altar is picked up again and is carried further down the streets until it enters the church it belongs to.

 In other news my travel companion and I were stuck in Málaga for two more days than we had originally planned. We had been informed that all the supermarkets would be closed on Thursday and Friday and we had duly bought all the extra food we needed. What I forgot to consider however was that I had parked the car in that same supermarket's free parking lot ;-) Things happen, and I have no regrets for spending an extra day in a very pleasant coastal city after many days of constant travelling.

Today I am sending a big "Happy Easter" out to all of you. I do it in the hope that - whichever faith or non-faith, persuasion or non-persuasion you adhere to - you are enjoying a peaceful Sunday with your loved ones.

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