Semana Santa

Spain is known especially for its Holy Week traditions or Semana Santa. The celebration of Holy Week regarding popular piety relays almost exclusively in the processions of the brotherhoods or fraternities. These associations have their origins in the Middle Age, but a number of them were created during the Baroque Period.The membership is usually open to any Catholic person and family tradition is an important element to become a member.

A common feature in Spain is the almost general usage of the nazareno or penitential robe for some of the participants in the processions. This garment consists in a tunic, a hood with conical tip (capirote) used to conceal the face of the wearer, and sometimes a cloak. The exact colors and forms of these robes depend on the particular procession. The robes were widely used in the medieval period for penitents, who could demonstrate their penance while still masking their identity. These nazarenos carry processional candles or rough-hewn wooden crosses, may walk the city streets barefoot, and, in some places may carry shackles and chains on their feet as penance.

These processions take place in Palma mainly on Thursday night – Maundy Thursday. Maundy Thursday is the Christian holy day falling on the Thursday before Easter. It commemorates the Maundy and Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles

The other common feature is that every brotherhood carries magnificent “Pasos” or floats with sculptures that depict different scenes from the gospels related to the Passion of Christ or the Sorrows of Virgin Mary. Many of these floats are art pieces created by Spanish artists such as Gregorio Fernandez, Juan de Mesa, Martínez Montañés or Mariano Benlliure. Brotherhoods have owned and preserved these “pasos” for centuries in some cases. Usually, the “pasos” are accompanied by Marching bands performing “Marchas procesionales” a specific type of compositions, devoted to the images and fraternities.

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