Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Semana Santa in Salamanca

A reminder to all Tia Tula students - Thursday 2nd or Friday 3rd April are public holidays, and thus there will be no lessons on either of these dates.

Most of you reading this will be aware that this week is Semana Santa.  But what is it all about?
Semana Santa is the Spanish term for the week leading up to Easter Sunday.  The celebration dates back to the 16th century, when the Catholic Church decided to make the story of the Passion of Christ accessible to the illiterate masses. They decided that the most effective way of doing this would be to hold a series of processions depicting scenes from the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ, collectively known as the ´Passion Narratives’.

Every year, each of the cofradías católicas or Catholic brotherhoods carries a ’paso’ or float, depicting a different scene from the Passion Narratives. The pasos are elaborately decorated, and the participants often dress in cloaks and hoods, known as capas and capirotes. Some processions are accompanied by a band, playing a selection of sombre and atmospheric songs, whereas others take place in mournful silence. The participants carrying the paso are called costaleros, whilst those following the float are called penitentes.

As one would expect from a city so imbued in history and culture, Salamanca has one of the oldest celebrations in Spain. According to local history, the earliest procession can be traced back to 1240. Although the processions in this region are less carnivalesque than those held further south, they are nonetheless an intense and vivid experience, and well worth attending.

But what about this year?
10,000 'penitents' associated with 16 brotherhoods will take to the streets between Viernes de Dolores (Friday of Sorrows, the penultimate Friday before Easter, this year Friday 27th) and Domingo de Pascua (Easter Sunday), carrying 41 different pasos.
For a full list of processions, see the official Semana Santa website. ´Horarios y Recorridos'.

An exhibition of Semana Santa posters, or carteles, is open to the public at Vialia (the train station). The exhibition closes 5th April.

No comments:

Post a Comment