by Christopher Collins

What define Spain’s Semana Santa (Easter Week) are, increasingly, the “religious” processions that vie against each other for the undeclared title of “Best Dressed Religious Image.”

Success is measured by the number of devotees and, more especially, by the number of gawking tourists taking pictures of processions

Mobile in the procession, a measure of success

Title aside, the success of the penance processions is measured not by how many devotees attend but the number of tourists who come to gawk and take pictures with their mobile phones.

The saetera, wearing black mantilla, sings to crucified Christ

The saeta, Flamenco song replete with emotional intensity and dramatic charge sung  to Christ and his Sorrowful Mother during the procession, is obsolescent. It is drowned out by the bouncy tunes played by the brass bands of the religious fraternities.

There’s nothing more incongruous than upbeat music played in honor of Christ who’s bleeding from his crown of thorns and Our Lady of Sorrows weighed down by grief for her Son.

Bouncy tunes

The ostentatious presence of uniformed security forces in the processions is threatening to convert the religious cortege into semi-military parade! This past Semana Santa a few bands even dared play Spain’s national anthem to welcome the images, who’d lost the battle with the rain, back to their respective home-churches.

Sorrowful Mother

Oh yes, at the height of the festival it rained. No miracle to stop April showers from pouring in March. (Easter week 2018: 25 March – 1 April.)

Semana Santa is fast turning into a parody of the Easter penitence that used to characterize the week of the Passion of Jesus in Catholic Spain.


Featured image/Mariya Prokopyuk, CC BY2.0
Procession/Christopher Birr, CC BY-SA2.0
Cell phone/Javier Orti, CC BY-ND2.0 cropped
Saeta/Alvaro Berc, CC BY2.0
Band/Enrique Freire, CC BY2.0
Sorrowful Mother/Javier Orti, CC BY-ND2.0