This year the Semana Santa (“The holy week”) takes place from the 1st to the 8th of April 2012 in all of Spain, being extended by one day until Monday 9th in Catalonia. Being a deeply Roman Catholic country, the week before Easter is filled with a number of processions and festivities that take place in towns and cities throughout all of Spain to celebrate the resurrection of Christ.
All processions (“Pasos”) start with a decorative float displaying Christ and end with another, displaying the Holy Mary. Floats are lifted by the so called “Costaleros” who carry the floats and move the structure synchronized to the music and the drumbeats. As they can only move slowly due to the weight and the size of the floats, the procession and the decoration of the parade can be well-observed. It is really worth seeing the processions either start or end in one of the churches, as it is quite spectacular to watch the sizeable floats being maneuvered through the tight door frames of the often ancient churches. Lots of candles, decorative elements and enchants give the processions a special atmosphere – particularly at night time. A large number of processors dressed with robes and tall pointed hats, often carrying a large candle, the so-called Nazarenos, participate in the parade.
Make sure to keep an eye out and try the delicious Mona de Pascua, a traditional cake in form of a crown, or Buñuelos, a kind of fried doughnut with chocolate. Other delicious traditional food consumed around Easter are Torrijas, pieces of bread soaked in milk and fried in butter with honey or sugar and Pestiños, pastry prepared with sweet dough fried in oil and bathed in honey.
Although the more traditional south of Spain with cities such as Seville is more famous for its Easter processions than cities such as Barcelona and Madrid, both are a great places to visit for Easter celebrations. In Barcelona the most famous Paso is “La Burreta” and takes place in la Ciutat Vella on Palm Sunday. Other processions are centering in the Gótico, around the cathedral and Las Ramblas during the week. In Madrid the “Paso de Cristo de la Fe y el Perdón” is celebrated on Palm Sunday, starting in the city center. On Friday a silent procession the so-called “Procesión Del Silencio” with a considerable number of brothers create a somewhat different atmosphere.