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.”
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 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.
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.
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/Chritopher 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