(Leer en Español) Easter –Semana Santa- time in Seville is a religious event declared of International Tourist Interest. You can see the Brotherhoods –Hermandades- of the city show in their processions The Passion of Jesus Christ. After Ashes Wednesday –Miércoles de Ceniza-, the countdown starts and 40 days –Cuaresma– have to pass until the Easter begins. During this time, a big amount of activities related with religion happen. They are all connected with the Brotherhoods, their Images and their Brothers. Bands and bearers –costaleros– are testing the processions, showing to the citizens that Semana Santa is coming soon. But… how is Semana Santa in Seville?
HOW IS SEMANA SANTA IN SEVILLE: ‘CARRERA OFICIAL’
The Semana Santa officially starts on Palm Sunday –Domingo de Ramos– and it finishes on Easter Sunday –Domingo de Resurrección-. Although these are the official dates, the previous Friday –Viernes de Dolores– and Saturday –Sábado de Pasión-, you can start watching processions in Seville. Up to 11 Brotherhoods, of the 61 that do processions in the city, show their Images during that weekend. The processions in Seville start in the evening and finish in the morning, filling their streets with their penitents –Nazarenos-, Images and smell of incense.
Decisions taken at the Synod of 1604 ended up in the Semana Santa we know nowadays. Although since the 18th Century its popularity decreased, it returned of new popularity during the 19th Century. In 1604, the Cathedral was included in the path of the processions. Previously the Images could be only seen in their neighbourhoods. To reach the Cathedral, processions do the Carrera Oficial, the section from Campana Square to the temple, going along Sierpes Street and Constitution Avenue.
These areas are in the centre which is the area that can accommodate more people. When a Paso arrives to La Campana, where the Box seat –Palquillo– of the Board of the Brotherhoods is situated, the Deputy Mayor of the Brotherhood asks for the venia to the Chairman. It means that they ask for permission to start their walking along the Carrera Oficial. Once the procession arrives to the Cathedral, it comes back to its starting point.
HOW IS SEMANA SANTA IN SEVILLE: THE PROCESSIONS
Processions always have something in common. The Guiding Cross –Cruz de Guía– which is carried by a Brother who goes in the first position; the Rules Book –Libro de Reglas– which includes the rules of the Brotherhood, the Brotherhood Pennant –Estandarte-, the Senatus (Roman pennant) and the Claxons –Bocinas-, big trumpets only used to decorate.
All these elements are placed along the procession. The Nazarenos are part of the Brotherhood and they are dressed in cape and hood. Besides you can see the Acólitos that are the ones that go next to the Images. The Paso is an Image or figure and it is the centre of the procession. Each Brotherhood has between one or three Pasos, being the most common Images of Jesus Christ and the Virgin of the Pain –La Dolorosa-.
The Foreman is the one who guides the procession, giving orders using the Llamador, a hummer that produces sounds to alert the bearers –costaleros– and to let them know where and when they have to move. The Costaleros carry the weight of the Paso using the trabajaderas (empty spaces with wooden sticks under the Images). Formerly, they were workers of the Sevillian Harbour. Nowadays, Costaleros are citizens who are really admired in the city. They are called Costaleros due to the protection they use for their necks call costal.
Behind the Paso, you can find the band of bugles and drums. Sometimes it is a band that includes more instruments such as the clarinet or the saxophone. Other times it is only a threesome or even you can find Pasos with no music. Saeta is a way of singing that is full of passion. It is sang to the Image from a balcony or in the street, meanwhile the Paso is going along its path.
If you had doubts about how is Semana Santa in Seville, we hope you have now things clear about this event that has become a religious event declared of International Tourist Interest with visitors around the world. If you need a break between Paso and Paso, have a drink in any of the tapas bars more traditional in Seville, where you will be able to enjoy Semana Santa thanks to their marvelous decoration.