Great things about Spain, Semana Santa, Seville

6 phrases to survive Semana Santa

It’s that time again; Holy week is just round the corner. Semana Santa in Sevilla is about to kick off when hundreds of Nazarenos form in their processions while on a penitence, thousands of spectators absorb the atmosphere while throwing their pipas – seed shells, on the floor, and plenty of Sevillanos cry while their Christs or Virgens pass, or because their procession gets cancelled due to rain.

Whether you love or hate Semana Santa, you can’t live in Sevilla without being affected by the craziness that surrounds this immense festival. Personally, I’m a massive fan (I even participate in a procession, one of the benefits of being married to a Sevillana whose family are members of a brotherhood), at least until the Friday, by then I’ve usually had enough and can’t wait to back to normality, go to bed at a reasonable time, and be able to walk around the city without planning several hours in advance.

If you’re sticking around to watch the processions this year, or are coming over as a visitor, then here are a few expressions that might come in useful as you are out and about watching pasos or having a beer with some locals.

Semana santa virgin
Esta preciosa… Photo by albert besselse

‘Esta preciosa’ – ‘She’s beautiful’

You can use this one while, or just after, a Virgin passes, especially La Macarena, although to her you’d be better off shouting ‘Guapa, Guapa,’ like her followers do. I’m not a huge admirer of the Virgin processions. Even after all these years they seem pretty similar, I know they’re not, but once you’ve seen one hundred, you think you’ve seen them all, or just the same one a hundred times. I’m more eager to wait around an hour, or even two, to see a decent Christ procession though. That’s where the passion and excitement lies for me, especially as La Madrugada approaches. Continue reading “6 phrases to survive Semana Santa”

Great things about Spain, Semana Santa

What I will, and won’t, miss about Semana Santa in Sevilla

There’s one aspect of Sevilla that has really had an impact on me over the years: Semana SantaHoly Week. The relationship I have with this festival is much like one with a new girlfriend: one minute I’m filled with joy, and the next I’m banging my head against the wall. This year, unfortunately, or fortunately, I won’t be around to enjoy the festival. It’s the first time I’ll miss it since I became a member of a brotherhood. Here are a few reasons why I’ll miss it.

The Atmosphere

Semana Santa1
Calm before the storm – Las Sillas Photo by emildom75

The brass bands following the processions around the city make a fantastic atmosphere. I love how they play to the steps of the Christ or Virgin and make them look as though they are moving along with the music. Highlights of the week are when processions have to fit through tight gaps in the narrow streets and the music inspires the costelleros (the guys carrying the weight) to keep marching, and normally spread goosebumps through the crowd of people watching. Over the years I’ve managed to pick up a few tunes and I have my favourites. I couldn’t tell you the names, but I know how to whistle the tune (which often annoys the hell out of my wife).

This year Semana Santa is a bit late, so the smell of azahar – orange blossom – has almost passed. But the sweet aroma always adds to the occasion. One year my Dad came over and as a present my father-in-law wrapped up some blossom in a box so my Dad could take it back for my Mum as a present. It lasted the whole journey and when my Mum opened the box she almost started crying because of the powerful scent.

The crowds add to the spectacle too. It’s about the only time of year when I do tolerate having lots of people about (most of the time, see the next blog). The passion of the Sevillanos is impressive. The way they gather outside churches, in squares, up trees and lamp posts, and pack up the ancient cobbled streets is always bewildering. Continue reading “What I will, and won’t, miss about Semana Santa in Sevilla”