If you are studying Spanish, you must also understand the cultural aspect that the language brings with it.
This not only includes gastronomy and historical facts but also includes traditions celebrated on specific dates and that its celebration is carried out with rituals that have become a custom within Hispanic societies.
Many of these dates have a sacred origin, as Hispanic culture has a deep religious imprint in its history.
One of the most important dates within these traditions is Holy Week.
Have you heard of this celebration?
Whether you know about it or not, you must have the right information to better understand the origin of this celebration and its importance within the culture.
Join us as we take a look back at Semana Santa. Spanish Express brings you all the information you need to know!
What is Semana Santa?
If we talk about important dates in Christian culture, Holy Week undoubtedly ranks first.
This religious celebration is also known as Easter Week in some countries and commemorates each stage of the Passion of Jesus Christ.
The festival opens with Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, then his Stations of the Cross, and then culminates the week in the name of his death and resurrection.
In short, all these stations represent the last week of Jesus Christ on earth, making up Holy Week, a recounting of his glory and his tragedy.
When is Holy Week celebrated?
The date of this celebration can vary depending on the year.
In general, Holy Week takes place between March and April. Just after Palm Sunday and from Ash Wednesday onwards all the remaining days are considered holy.
However, it is the Easter Triduum that is considered the most important and sacred part, lasting from Maundy Thursday until Easter Sunday, also known as Easter Sunday.
In the beginning, Easter used to coincide with the Jewish Passover, and the celebrations were very similar. It was first celebrated by the Jews and then, around the 4th century, Christianised Romans began to adopt the celebration.
Later, with the spread of Christianity to areas of Europe, Africa, the Americas and the Middle East, the original Easter rites began to change, and traditions considered pagan, such as celebrating spring, were adopted.
Due to these variations, Easter has evolved from changing dates to certain traditions in the various Christian territories that celebrate it today.
The one thing that many of these countries have in common is that, for the most part, they take these days as holidays, ceasing all work and other activities.
What does each day in Holy Week represent?
As we mentioned earlier, Holy Week is a recounting of every situation in which Jesus Christ was exposed during those days. But, each of these days holds an important event:
- Palm Sunday: the day Jesus Christ enters Jerusalem.
- Holy Monday: Jesus drives the merchants out of the Temple in Jerusalem and performs the anointing in the house of Lazarus.
- Holy Tuesday: Jesus Christ announces to all his disciples the betrayal by Judas and the future denials by St. Peter.
- Holy Wednesday: Sanhedrin and Judas Iscariot agreed to betray Jesus, Judas receiving 30 pieces of silver in exchange.
- Maundy Thursday: Jesus performs the washing of the feet and then attends the Last Supper. The Eucharist and Jesus’ prayer in the garden of Gethsemane also take place. Finally, the day culminates with his inevitable arrest.
- Holy Friday: Jesus is taken to prison and interrogated by Caiaphas and Pilate. This is followed by his scourging and the crowning with thorns, and then the Stations of the Cross, his crucifixion and finally his burial.
- Holy Saturday: this day is known as Easter Eve and the Solitude of Mary.
- Easter Sunday: the Resurrection.
How is Holy Week celebrated in Spain?
In Spain, many regions celebrate the arrival of Holy Week, remaining faithful to Christian customs.
From Ocaña, Spain gives the world a famous celebration that has captured the world’s attention.
With respectful silence, the ten cofradías (brotherhoods) appear in Ocaña on Palm Sunday for a procession, with the gipsy community leading each step.
During each day of Holy Week, these processions take place in the streets, and become more intense with the arrival of Good Friday, as the three falls of Jesus Christ are presented.
For this day, the Hermandad de los Armados (Brotherhood of the Armed Ones) makes a notorious presence thanks to its striking costumes. The Nazarenes join together to pay promises, walking barefoot and dragging chains.
On the other hand, there’s also the Holy Week in Málaga, where a prisoner is released in an emotional ceremony. During this moment, the figure of Jesus gives the individual a blessing so that he can be forgiven and integrated back into a life of goodness.
Another celebration frequented by tourists is the Holy Week in León, during this time, you can experience the meeting of the Sorrowful Mother, Saint John and the Nazarene. All this takes place in the Plaza Mayor where the Ronda and the famous procession of the Pasos ends.
Other areas of Spain such as Galicia and Andalusia have interesting celebrations that you should see in person. They will leave you wanting to come back to Spain again!
Do you want to learn more about Hispanic holidays?
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Ginnette Di Damaso
Spanish Express Blogger