It was Easter in Spain and I had flown down to Seville to witness one of the most interesting religious festivals in the world. The Semana Santa or Holy Week showcases multitudes of Catholic processions by those wishing to be cleansed of their sins for the year. Participants don long robes in the identifiable colours of their local church, complete with a very large pointed hood that covers the face so that they can only see through two holes in the front. Envision the Ku Klux Klan in various colours but without the hate crimes and prejudice. Their pointed hoods are supposed to hide the height of the person while their face is hidden so that people cannot identify the ‘sinners’.
The various sized groups walk through the streets of Seville carrying candles, banners and various antique relics from their church. Some go all out and place their revered statues of Mary and Jesus on giant, gold-gilded floats covered in flowers, mainly red and white roses. I assume that those who have committed the worst sins get the punishing job of carrying these floats around from underneath!.
Thousands line the street to watch them pass. Children collect wax from the candles to make giant wax balls as the devout reach out from the sidelines to try and touch the sacred floats.
Local women in their black dresses with beautiful, black, lace veils and intricate tortoiseshell hair pieces can be seen at every glance, cooling themselves with exquisitely made fans.
As the sun goes down the processions take on a creepy feel. It looks like a hundred Grim Reapers scouring the streets for their next unfortunate victim. Candlelight flickers across their robes and every now and then you catch the eye of the person behind the ghoulish hood to remind you that nothing supernatural is going on.
Semana Santa is only the start of a very interesting week exploring Seville with its maze of whitewashed laneways in the Barrio de Santa Cruz, the large and extravagant palace and gardens of the Real Alcazar and stepping inside the Seville Cathedral, the 3rd largest in the world. A perfect city to experience the colourful Andalucían culture.