Seville´s Holy Week

Semana Santa is the week before Easter. People across the world in Spanish speaking countries remember the last week of Jesus’ life, beginning with his arrival in Jerusalem, celebrated on Palm Sunday (Domingo de Ramos) and ending with his Resurrection on Easter Sunday.  Andalusia is especially famous for the way people celebrate the festival. You can see many processions through the streets, taste typical sweet breads and if you are lucky you may catch one of the Spanish Flamenco style Easter songs.

The dates of Semana  Santa are different every year. The general rule is that it should start on the Sunday with a full moon after or on the equinox, but there are many different astronomical factors to work out! It’s complicated to do yourself, we suggest just checking our calendar at the bottom of the post, to know exactly the Holly Week dates for the next years.

Whatever date it begins, Semana santa is very important to the local people. Nearly everyone gets a full week vacation during this time. Andalusia is a very Catholic province and for that’s why you can see the hundreds of years of traditions on show during this week. Expect the streets to be filled with tourists and locals enjoying the atmosphere and trying to see some of the processions. The more serious and devoted Andalucía’s may be part of the processions themselves, although it could be difficult to recognize someone you know as many people are dressed in Klu Klux Clan style costumes! .….Strangely enough, the inspiration for the  Anti- Catholic terrorist group the  Ku Klux Klan uniform does actually come from this outfit.

Semana santa is celebrated a little differently depending on where you are visiting; however, wherever you are you are sure to see large groups of brotherhoods making processions and an emotional Spanish person crying! Semana Santa is an emotional time for many Spaniards; the week is a mix of joy and grief remembering the final week of Jesus´s life.

It is also a time where people reflect on their own actions. A big part of Semana Santa is repentance. People think about their own sins and this is why people wear costumes to hide their appearance. Don´t try to talk to them, they are not allowed to speak to other people during then processions!

You will see the large processions of different brotherhoods carrying large wooden floats called Pasos with icons of Jesus and the Virgin. These are very old and beautiful so don´t forget to take some photos! Can you guess the weight of the average Paso? Generally a Paso uses between 24 and 54 people called Costaleros to move. Up until 1973 local dock workers ( i.e. big,strong men) were used.  So you can guess that they are pretty heavy! Most of the “costaleros” can charge almost 100k.

Basically each Barrio (neighborhood) has its own church and brotherhood.  The churches celebrate Semana Santa by making a procession from their own local church to the main Cathedral. Some people say the best part is when they leave and enter their local church. The processions are really interesting to watch and each one is different. Some have music and others are in complete silence.  A procession can range in size from a few hundred to around 3,000 and last anywhere from 4 to 14 hours, depending on the distance of the brotherhood parish in relation to the Cathedral.  Don´t rush yourself to move from procession to procession, for instance, a large procession can mean it could take over and hour and a half to cross one spot!

Making the best of your trip

The key to enjoying Semana  santa  is to relax, wear sensible footwear and remember that there are a wide range of processions so it may be impossible to see everything. In Seville for example there are over 50 processions so don´t worry if you can´t see them all. For everyone who can´t speak so much Spanish here are some definitions of typical Semana santa words.

Nazarenos: These are members of the brotherhood who walk in silence. You can´t miss them due to their strange costumes and pointy hoods. They can be a little scary, especially if you see 3000 in one procession!

Saetas: This is the typical Easter flamenco style song. It often is very sad and you never know when one may begin. Normally somebody will just start singing from a balcony and everybody stops to listen.

Monaguillos: If you are wonder why a small child dressed as a priest has approached you to offer you some candy you have come across a Monaguillo one of the most curious traditions of the events.

Torrijas: Make sure you try a Torrija. This is a typical sweet bread eaten in Semana Santa. It is made from bread, eggs, white wine, honey and cinnamon. Very cheap and absolutely delicious!

Handy tips to help you avoid some awkward situations.

It is important not to get lost in the excitement of the crowds and remember this is a religious festival.  Please respect the silence when Nazarenos pass, and be careful with throwing glass or cigarette butts onto the floor. Many of the Nazarenos walk barefoot through the streets.

The end of the pavement marks the boundary of where you cannot stand, do not try to cross the road during procession, this is NOT ALLOWED. To avoid embarrassing moments  do not try and stand in front of somebody who already has their place, people wait for hours to get a good spot to watch the processions and its polite to stand behind if you arrive later. Don´t be surprised to see people climbing monuments, ladders or bins in order to catch sight of the procession.

Be prepared for BIG crowds. Possibly the biggest you will ever have seen and for this reason remain patient. Be ready for people pushing past you from every direction, also allow a lot of extra time to get to and from different spots.

We would definitely recommend comfortable clothes and sensible shoes however don´t be surprised to see some very formal outfits, this is a serious occasion and many Spaniards dress up in their best clothes for the processions.

As with any big event with huge amounts of people you must keep your belongings safe and on you, big bags could cause problems in narrow streets packed with people.

Dates of Semana Santa in the next years

2015

Domingo de Ramos: March 29th

2016

Domingo de Ramos: March 20th

2017

Domingo de Ramos: April 9th

2018

Domingo de Ramos: March 25th

2019

Domingo de Ramos: April 14th

2020

Domingo de Ramos: April 5th

2021

Domingo de Ramos: March 28th

2022

Domingo de Ramos: April 1st

2023

Domingo de Ramos: April 2nd

2024

Domingo de Ramos: March 24th

2025

Domingo de Ramos: April 13th

2026

Domingo de Ramos: March 29th

2027

Domingo de Ramos: March 21th

2028

Domingo de Ramos: April 9th

If you are looking for some cheap, safe, reliable and well located place to stay during the Holy Week, then look no further, we are your hostel in Seville.