So, I am skipping my review of Morocco for the time being. I found I wanted to say too much and yet never enough but I didn’t want to fall too behind. Regardless, for those of you who don’t know after Morocco I had one day in Granada to experience some of Semana Santa (it was enough) and then I was taking off for a week between Lisbon (Portugal), Salamanca, and Santiago de Compostela (both back in Spain).
However, I am going to break each of these up because I already know I want to talk about each of them separately.
To begin I am actually going to start with a great 24 hours back at home base in Granada. The majority of Spanish holidays stay true to their Christian roots, but probably none more so than Semana Santa – Holy Week. Especially in Andalusia, Semana Santa takes the cake for religiosity and splendor that only a week-long holiday can bring. And they really do take the whole week off, and every day there are three or four processions. These processions involve carrying or rolling large ‘floats’ through the streets, which are actually more along the lines of giant altars with different religious figures telling the very solemn story of Catholic Easter.
If you are already finding this review to be steeped in pagan skepticism, you would be astute. While I really am able to appreciate these spectacles for their cultural value, I did not feel as though I needed to be a part of it, and decided I wanted to appreciate from afar…as in another country.
Anyway, the altars are all designed in the typical baroque/gothic mixture of Spanish style, which I have always found to be one of the most aesthetically displeasing style of art and architecture. The members of the processions are dressed in costumes that are at best, peculiar, and at worst terrifying. The majority are dressed in long robes and wear tall pointed hats…just like the Klan. Don’t get me wrong, there are beautiful aspects of this week in regards to religion, tradition, family, and the general Spanish fiesta spirit.
Luckily, I was there for one of the local favorite processions: Del Silencio. This procession happens Thursday night, and is the procession that mourns Christ’s death. All of the houses and restaurants turn off their lights and go silent as the procession passes, so all that lights the way are the traffic lights (on the major streets). All of the processors are dressed in all black, and carry candles along their vigilant way. I knew all of this ahead of time, so it wasn’t so bad. However, after the altar with Jesus, there came a group of processors who were wearing chains around their ankles. The sound dragging on the street was none too pleasant. But, this is one of the favorites due to the emotion and power, and I can assure you that this was successfully achieved. We were able to have front row seats, making it all the better and at the front of the procession so we didn’t have to wait as long.
To be fair, the mood lightened immediately upon the procession passing, as what one friend described as “the sound of rushing water” began as everyone started to chat again following behind the somber procession, and jumped into line for gelato and another cerveza….what can I say, la vida española!
Like I said, I am very happy it worked out so that I could see the procession because it is a very important piece of Spanish, and particularly Andalusian, culture. And after experiencing it, I am glad I got to hop on a plane to Portugal!!!
Unfortunately, I only have one picture because the lights were off and using a flash seemed insensitive, but it turned out pretty well:
And just to show you what I was talking about (this came from Google):
More to come soon!!