Holy Week in Spain is a big event. Especially in Andalucía.
The capital cities of each province vie with each other for the biggest, best and most lavish processions.
Seville, reputedly, is the classic one to visit, closely followed by Málaga and Granada. Depends what you read as to which one is ‘best’. Other great Andalucían ones include Córdoba, Jaen, Cadiz and Almería. Not sure about Huelva, but probably up there with the rest of the best.
Our neighbours were discussing it some years ago. Córdoba, pronounced José to his family, had the best procession.
His daughters looked at him in disbelief.
‘You’ve never been to Córdoba,’ said Marcella.
‘I’ve seen it on the TV,’ he answered back knowledgeably and thereby ending the discussion with his patriarchal viewpoint.
Except he didn’t. The daughters laughed at him and told him he was talking a load of rubbish. They probably agreed that Málaga had one of the best.
My first view of Semanta Santa in Málaga was before the actual Holy Week (ie this week) when they basically have trial runs and cart out the religious effigies from their normally sleepy post in church to somewhere else. I have no idea why they do this, but it means that on a Saturday afternoon approaching Málaga bus station, your bus will be stuck in a queue.
So, dear readers, what happened when I later went to Málaga to view some Semana Santa processions?
Well there were a number of considerations to take into account. All of which I failed to do.
1. Processions start off late (remember this one, it’s important)
2. If they don’t start off late, they end up late as they traipse around quite long routes carrying extremely heavy tronos
3. If it rains, they start off even later (if they start at all)
4. There are a lot of people. This is not for the claustrophobically challenged. The pavements, bars, streets are just full of people. Forget going where you want. You go where you can, and even that is difficult.
5. There is a timetable. Ignore it and hope you are lucky enough to see something.
Not being aware of any of those, I had planned an energetic leap around Málaga to catch three processions. Good huh?
No. We got stuck in crowds, bars, rain and decided to catch the last bus home without seeing anything. But wait! Before we did, a procession approached. All was not lost. We stayed to watch. And it made the whole evening worth it. Semana Santa in Málaga is worth the effort. Well, only once anyway.
Next up, Vélez-Málaga. My local county town. Much smaller. While the Málaga processions are on main streets, you could touch the tronos in Vélez. A trono is probably a litter for want of a better word, but I can’t think of a good translation.
We were so close to one that was swaying so much I thought it might fall on us. The tronos are incredibly heavy, which is why the processions take so long. Every ten steps (or so it seemed), they put down the trono and take a rest.
The processions are organised by brotherhoods of the churches. In Vélez I was surprised to see a number of women carrying the tronos. Rather them than me.
Music is solemn and religious. Lots of battering drums. Very atmospheric. As many of the processions take place in the evening, or night, some are done by candlelight.
I do have some SLR photos of Vélez so if I find them, I will scan and add them on here, or maybe Everypic.
Photos are of the posters that are printed every year to publicise Semana Santa. It is a big event.
I’m always surprised it doesn’t happen in Gib, given the huge Catholic population and that Gib does celebrate Día de los Reyes (Day of the Kings for Epiphany).
But apart from that odd anomaly, Gib sticks to Brit traditions, so our Easter is Good Friday and Easter Monday, whereas Spain takes holiday on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. [Note, when I was in the civil service we got the afternoon of Maundy Thursday off too, for some reason I never worked out.]
Let’s finish with a little spice.
I see the Spanish are trouncing the Brits.
This time, in the crappy royal family stakes.
The head of Spanish intelligence was quizzed behind closed doors in parliament on Tuesday over whether public money had been spent on a woman whose friendship with King Juan Carlos has fueled talk of scandal and abdication.
Nice one Juan Carlos. I wrote about his hunting safari in Botswana last year, but it seems this woman was involved in that as well. She ran a British-based company that acted as an intermediary, oh and well, just fill in the script yourselves, you can work it out.
But is Felipe (crown prince and heir to the throne) any better than Juan Carlos? Not in my opinion, certainly not with his anti-Gib stance. So why swap one poor monarch for another?
In this most important week of the Christian world, don’t you just love a Catholic monarchy where:
a. Sofia of Greece had to change her religion to Catholicism on marrying Juan Carlos of Spain (got to love religion getting in the way of personal relationships)
b. The king in his seventies is rumoured to have a lover in her late 40s
c. The heir to the throne of a Catholic country (Prince Felipe) marries a divorcee
And, of course the Daily Wail.
I’m eleven words short for a WPLongform tag. I think I can soon fix that ;)