Pose: Cow Face
Location: Near La Macarena church. Most of our day was spent driving back to Sevilla from Portugal. It was a pretty long drive but we arrived back in town just in time for the most important processional of Semana Santa; La Macarena.
Semana Santa in Sevilla is the biggest Holy Week in Spain and maybe even the Catholic world outside of the Vatican. Each church in the city is scheduled to bring our their icon/virgin at some point during the week and parade it through the city to the cathedral. The icons are carried on a platform with dozens of people underneath who have been practicing for weeks. They know every turn and how many steps they need to take. Over the past couple of weeks we have caught some of the rehearsal processions. Some of these churches have been parading their icons out each year for as long as 600 years. El Silencio, the oldest, has been going since 1340. La Macarena, the one we attended tonight, has been going since 1595. Most of the processions also include really cool brass bands playing somber funeral marches (Godfather status). Each processional also has their groups of religious brotherhoods that march before the icon. Some of them wear typical Catholic looking religious garb and carry different props (candelabras, crosses, thuribles, etc). Then there are the Nazarenos, wearing their pointy hoods (KKK took their uniform from this religious tradition). The people of Spain may have heard of KKK but to them these pointy hoods are symbolic of their Semana Santa tradition, not a symbol of hatred and violence. For me, it was a bit disconcerting and uncomfortable to see thousands of people walking around in these pointy hoods.
Thursday night is the biggest night of Holy Week. Many of the larger and more important churches begin their processionals at midnight or so and arrive at the cathedral at some point on Good Friday. La Macarena is the biggest of the biggest and we live a short walk away (we live in the neighborhood of Macarena after all). La Macarena virgin is heralded as the most beautiful of all the antiquities that parade through the streets. There is tons of T.V. coverage and since we got there early”ish” we had a pretty good spot. After we had been there about an hour or so, we looked behind us and couldn’t tell where the sea of people ended. After about 2 1/2 hours of thousands upon thousands of Nazarenos pouring out of the church along with a band and the first icon, they finally brought out the virgin. The crowd gets really quiet and then one person calls out “MacareeeeeeeNA!” And the crowd answers “Guapa!” They do this many times. After the virgin passes most people disperse. By this point it’s almost 3 in the morning. I read later that this procession takes 14 hours from beginning to end, which means they won’t arrive at the Cathedral until 1:00 or so in the afternoon.
This all sounds like a pretty crazy serious religious event. It is that but it also reminded me of the 4th of July. People brought chairs, beers, and were hanging out with friends and neighbors. Then for the 10 minutes the virgin is passing people are somber (some of them even cry), and then it’s back to the fun. Kind of like how people get patriotic and somber (and maybe even cry) during the 10 minutes of fireworks accompanied by “Proud to be an American”.
Photography Credit: Brandon