Every year thousands flock to Seville to witness one of the city’s most iconic celebrations. From Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, Sevillians and visitors alike whip out their best dress and make their way to the streets to witness the impressive processions that take place throughout the week.
The processions feature pasos, which are large floats carrying massive statues representing various images from the Passion of Christ. Throughout the week, the members of over 60 hermandades (brotherhoods) that make their way through this historic city with over 120 pasos.
Here is a breakdown of all the nuts and bolts that make Semana Santa in Seville a truly unique celebration.
Each brotherhood is associated with a church in Seville. While Semana Santa is the premiere event, members work tirelessly throughout the year to plan all the details to ensure they make their way through Seville without a hitch. While membership is open to all who are interested and willing to get involved, many choose their hermandad based on family ties. In certain hermandades it is very common to see whole families taking part.
These are the robbed members of the hermandades who lead the pasos through Seville to the Cathedral and back to the original church. While those accustomed to the traditional dress don’t think twice when they see a nazareno passing by, many visitors stand entranced as these masked figures pass. The capirote (conical hood) bears a resemblance to those hoods used by the KKK, however, no connection exists. Plus, the hoods used by the nazarenos date back to at least the 17th century.
The use of the hood came about due to the desire of members of the brotherhoods to repent their sins without revealing their identities. Today, onlookers can witness nazarenos handing out candy to little ones in order to assure them that they are friendly.
The pasos seem to float effortlessly through the city, however, they are carried on by 40 members of the brotherhood who practice all year long, since each paso can weigh up to a ton. throughout the procession, the pasos will stop in order to let costaleros rest and switch out with others every hour or so.
While running around the city trying to catch a glimpse of all the pasos, you may be lucky enough to hear a Saeta, a traditional religious song. Spectators will fall silent as an emotive acapella performance takes place from a balcony high above the paso.
On Holy Thursday, women dress modestly in black and wear a Mantilla, a black lace veil held up by a peineta to show that they are mourning the death of Jesus Christ. If you want to catch a glimpse of a mantilla, make sure to get an early start, as most change by mid-day.