Back in the spring of 2011 I went on school exchange to Benavente, Spain. It was Easter while we were visiting and my guest family took me to see one of the processions in town. It was definitely different from the processions I had seen in the Netherlands when I was younger, so I was very intrigued at the time. I did some research, and here are some interesting facts about Semana Santa:
1. Semana Santa, which translates into “Holy Week”, is the Spanish Catholic tradition of commemorating the Passion of Christ, taking place the week directly before Easter.
2. During Holy Week processions, like the one shown in the photos above, an eleborate float (Paso) will be carried along, adorned with statues of Jesus,Virgin Mary, or other saints. These pasos are still physically carried and some can weigh over a 1000 kilograms!
3. Similar forms of Semana Santa are also celebrated with varying traditions of processions in Central and South American countries, including Mexico, Guatemala and Peru.
4. Torrija is a type of dessert, traditionally enjoyed during Semana Santa. It’s made from a slice of bread, dipped in egg and fried in a pan. Afterwards, the bread is soaked in milk or wine with honey and spices. Some say it’s pretty similar to French toast, which makes me want to try it even more.
5. In some southern Spanish communities, participants will sing the saeta during Holy Week processions, a very emotional type of religious song that (during Easter) usually mourns the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. The genre has its origins in flamenco folklore. Here’s an example from Granada’s Holy Week in 2009: