Along the Natchez Trace

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Semana Santa... Day 2

We had classes yesterday...  in fact, we had an extra session in the afternoon to make up for the classes we'll miss on Thursday and Friday.  Our last class ended around 6:30 and as we were heading home, we saw a procession moving down the main street.

The crowd was at least 10 deep along the sidewalks.  It was very difficult to get close enough to take any quality photos...
These displays are kept in the churches during the year.  Very often they are on prominent display as they are very ornate and most are many years old.  Each display depicts an event in Christ's life.
Considering that there are 60 churches that participate in each years parade, a person could spend weeks just visiting the various churches to check them out. 

The brotherhoods of each church have their own colors of  "costume".  Some are white, like below...  some black, some white with blue or red or another color.
One thing that these two kinds of celebrations have in common in Spain is the use of the "nazareno " or penitential robe in theProcessions (religious parades). This garment usually consists in a cloak , a tunic, and a hood with conical tip called a "capirote ", which is used to hide the face of the wearer. These same robes were widely used in the medieval times for penitents, so that they could demonstrate their penance while still masking their identity. Unfortunately, it is sometimes shocking to foreigners to see these robes in a religios procession because the robes have been intentionally used as the uniform "costumes" of the KKK in the United States, which is ironically a very anti-Catholic organization…
During the Semana Santa procession, these "nazarenos " walk down the street usually barefoot, carrying processional candles or wooden crosses. In some places they even carry shackles and chains on their feet as penance. They are also accompanied by a float with a sculptured representation of a biblical scene carried through the city with maximum seriousness, grace and tradition. Even if you are not religious, it is difficult not to be moved, the atmosphere is so 
vital and poignant. For some it is a fun filled fiesta time, for others a week of ritual and reflection. 
(Web Site)

Another view of the huge float...
We slowly (very slowly) made our way through the crowd down to the Isabel Bridge  While the bridge was totally packed with on-lookers, we did have a much better view of the procession.

I love seeing the kids dressed in the robes...
There are many kids, as well as women, who participate in this procession. 

As you read above, it is tradition to walk barefoot...
While we didn't see many barefoot men (most wore white socks and sandals), we did see a few bare feet...  and quite a few wearing the white socks, but no sandals or shoes.

Another photo of a young boy...
 The person just behind him is wearing socks..  no shoes.  The person in front wearing the socks and sandals.

The penitents carry huge candles; some carry a large cross, and some carry scepters with incense, or staffs of some sort.  A few carried flags or shield-like plaques that may be proclaiming which brotherhood they belong to.
This was taken while we were on the bridge. 

Look at the expression on this little girls face...
She looks rather petulant, doesn't she?  Well, she better pull in that lip because she has a LONG way to walk!

This was part of the "marching band".
Most of the time all we heard was the drum keeping cadence....  but at specified places along the route they do all play music.

Some churches have 3 floats...  but most have at least two...  The first one depicting an event in Christ's life...
And the last one is the Virgin Mother grieving over her Son's death.
This is nearly at the end of the procession.  There will be a whole lot of penitents following behind, but no more floats.

This particular procession is over...  for now.  They will walk to the Cathedral, go through it and come out the other side...  then retrace the route back to their own church.  This procession left their church at 5:00 (we watched it from 6:30 pm until 8pm)...  and will get back to their own church around 3am.  
When they make the return trip in the dark, all the candles will be lit.   We did not go back out to see this, but hope to see one of the others another time during the night hours.

Immediately following the parade came the clean-up crew...
There were 3 motorized street cleans...  and a crew of people physically sweeping the sidewalks.  The woman on the left is moving right along sweeping up debris.  And when I say "immediately" behind the parade, I mean... the last marcher, a police car... then the clean-up crew.

We headed home...  saw this guy walking briskly along the sidewalk...
No doubt he was on his way to another church where he'll march in that parade.

Of course there are a lot of street vendors...  selling everything from cotton candy, candy apples, sandwiches...  and lots of toy drums and horns for the kids...
We found this one particularly interesting...
A street vendor...  selling fava beans, another kind of bean and slices of coconut.  Note the water dripping down onto them to keep them moist.

I may be wrong in calling those Fava Beans, but we've bought them before in oriental markets...  they look like a white lima bean... you kind of slip the bean out of the skin with your teeth.  They are okay but we don't buy them very often ;-)

So Day Two of Semana Santa is over...  we have 6 more days of parades, processions and festivities.

Hopefully the weather will cooperate.

That's All For Today!


  1. Are those snack beans marinated or flavored? They would make a healthful snack but it seems like they'd be pretty boring! They'd be no match for popcorn or chips. Do the people watching parades get off work to do that? Or are the parades during Siesta time--just wondering.

    1. During Semana Santa nearly everything shuts down... except for shops that make money from the festival, most shops are closed. I suppose if you were participating in the parade, you'd only have to miss work for the one day your church/brotherhood had their procession. But. our school is closed Thursday and Friday... and already many of the shops are closed.

  2. Hay, I saw them here in Texas one day, only they called them the Klu Klux Klan.

    1. Yeah... they sure do look like that don't they? I'm hearing that it's REAL spooky when they march at night... absolutely silent! Just moving along the streets... candles lit... no sound. I hope we see that before the end of the week. It's raining as I write... not much chance to see anything tonight :-(

  3. good lord ... the intricate workmanship on the floats ~ makes me tired just thinking of the patience it must take to make something like that ~ just gorgeous

    I've never seen the Klan in flesh ... just pictures but I wonder if any of our African Americans go to Spain and witness these parades... holy moly

    I don't like that look at all ... have you found out what the costumes mean? did I miss that?

  4. That's pretty interesting! Lots of work went into those floats.