The holy week in Spain takes place in every Spanish city or town. Some of these religious festivals have been declared International Tourist Interest. The festivities begin on Palm Sunday (Domingo de Ramos) and last until Easter Monday (Lunes de Pascua), with the most dramatic parades held on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.
EL DOMINGO DE RAMOS – PALM SUNDAY
It is the first day of the Spanish holy week. Palm Sunday commemorates Jesus’ triumphal entry in Jerusalem, when the citizens of the old city threw palm leaves in the path of the donkey on which he was riding. Local artists use the white palm leaves to make intricate sculptures which are carried through the streets by all citizens. These figures may vary from small crosses to very large and impressive statues.
JUEVES SANTO – MAUNDRY THURSDAY
It is the highlight in the Holy Week in Spain. There are religious parades on the streets all over the country. The cofradias are the brotherhoods or groups that co-ordinate and participate in the processions.
In Seville, Semana Santa has crossed the boundaries becoming a world-famous event. During the Holy Week, the Andalusian capital comes to life with hundreds of pilgrims that gather here from all corners of the world to witness the city’s extravagant pasos. A paso is an enormous float adorned with life-size statues of biblical characters, designed for religious processions. In Seville, they are considered artistic masterpieces, some of them dating back as far as the 16th century. A popular feature is the group of costaleros who carry the pasos on their shoulders through the crowded streets.
DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS
Holy Thursday, Friday and Saturday are traditionally days of austerity and seclusion being “forbidden” to eat meat as it was considered in ancient times as a luxury.
La mona de pascua: the Easter cake: It marks a delicious end to the abstinence and a symbol of spring! In the XVIII century, godparents traditionally gave it to their godchildren. The traditional cake takes the form of a big doughnut topped with boiled eggs because Catholics would go without meat or eggs over Lent, so eggs were saved and used in the cake. Today La Mona de Pascua is decorated with chocolate, almonds, colourful feathers and even cartoon characters.
Las torrijas: a sweet desert made of slices of bread (preferably stale bread) sodden in milk and egg, and fried in oil, with sugar and cinnamon over it. There is other variety with wine instead of milk. Simply delicious.