It’s almost that time of year again in Spain– Semana Santa time. And, during what is arguably the most interesting time to visit or travel around España, Seville reigns king. As the bastion of Spanish traditions, Seville takes their Semana Santa celebrations seriously.
So what should you expect from Semana Santa in Seville?
- Torrijas, Semana Santa's official dessert. They're hard to resist.
- Processions. What would Holy Week be without them?
- Traditional outfits. Particularly on the Thursday.
- A very lively city. You'll definitely notice that there are a million extra people here.
- Religion & festivities. People come here to pray and party. What a mix!
If you’re planning on partaking in the festivities for the first time, here are a few things you’ll love about Semana Santa in Seville!
Known more commonly in English as French toast, torrijas are really much more special than just that. They’re the official dessert of Semana Santa!
During Holy Week, they’re a way of life. I’m guilty of eating at least one for dessert each night during Semana Santa. And I have no regrets. Yum.
2. The processions
Seville is famous across Spain for its incredible, awe-inspiring Semana Santa processions. And, once you’ve been there, it’s not hard to see why.
No words are sufficient enough to describe the emotions that come from seeing groups of men who, completely coordinated and practiced, trudge down the narrow streets with heavy, gilded pasos– or floats– in tow.
It’s hard work, and very impressive to watch. And whether you’re religious or not, it’s an experience to witness at least once in life.
Pro tip: be sure to stick around to see the Macarena, which is arguably the most important float of them all.
3. The traditional outfits
And it’s not just the processions that are a marvel during Holy Week. The traditional clothes are equally impressive.
First, and most iconically, you’ll notice the robes of the various religious brotherhoods, or hermandades. Each brotherhood– who are responsible for organizing and leading the processions– is dressed in a traditional costume, which varies in color depending on the brotherhood.
The most notable thing about their costumes are the capirotes, which are the tall, pointed hats worn by the brothers. Historically, these hats were worn to allow the person to repent before God anonymously.
And it’s not just the religious brotherhoods who dress impressively during Holy Week in Seville. You’ll see women dressed in gorgeous, black-lace veils, which is known as La Mantilla. The traditional dress is usually worn on the Thursday of Semana Santa, although it is sometimes also worn on Good Friday.
4. The city comes alive
Even on the most normal of days, Seville is an endearing city. But in Seville, Semana Santa is probably the biggest week of the year. As such, the city becomes simply electrified during Holy Week.
With the influx of people from all over Spain and the world, the processions around every corner, and brotherhoods carrying the enormous pasos, the city takes on a uniquely energized, profound characteristic.
5. The mix of religion and festivities
Though Seville is very traditional, the processions during Holy Week are not strictly serious, devout affairs. On the contrary: Easter week becomes party central in Seville!
Don’t get me wrong. Those looking for a religious experience will no doubt find one, as you’ll walk alongside procession participants who, at times, are wearing no shoes, taking the passion of Christ out of the Bible and into more modern streets.
But Semana Santa in Seville has a lighter, festive side too. Young students maraud through the streets, children play eating sweets, and their parents might have a quiet botellón as the religious processions go by.
And this is the charming thing about Sevilla– a sense of mixed gravity and lightness, all at once. It is, in a sense, the perfect balance of life’s ups and downs, all in one amazing week.
It’s just the sort of experience that is not to be missed.
Have something to add? What’s your favorite part of Semana Santa? Let us know in the comments!
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