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EASTER

GALLERY: This is how Easter was celebrated across Spain

Catch up with these amazing images of how Semana Santa was celebrated in different places across Spain.

GALLERY: This is how Easter was celebrated across Spain
Penitents wearing hoods take part in a Holy Week procession in Verges. Photo: AFP
Wherever you were in Spain last week, you likely came across Easter celebrations involving hooded penitents in slow moving processions where statues of Christ and the saints were held aloft.
 
But you may also have come across penitents dragging a crucifix through the streets, or bands of children in skeleton suits dancing through the town.
 
 
Here's a look at the best images from Semana Santa 2018:
 
Spanish actor Antonio Banderas takes part in the “Lagrimas y Favores” (Tears and Favours) brotherhood Palm Sunday procession in his home city of Malaga at the start of the Holy Week. Photo: AFP
 
Despite the startling resemblance, the long conical hats worn by the members of some brotherhoods during Spain's Easter celebrations have nothing to do with the Ku Klux Klan. Instead, they originate in the hats worn by people found guilty of religious crimes in the Spanish Inquisition.

In Sevilla, a hooded penitent walks to church before the start of a procession. Photo: AFP
 
Those criminals would walk the streets in the hats while they were mocked and insulted by the crowds. By donning the hats in Spain's Easter celebrations, penitents are also re-enacting Christ's road to Calvary.
 
Penitents take part in the “Lagrimas y Favores” (Tears and Favours) brotherhood Palm Sunday procession in Malaga at the start of the Holy Week. Photo: AFP
 
A barefoot penitent stands on the pavement during 'Los Gitanos' (the gipsies) Spy Wednesday procession in the Holy Week in Madrid.Photo: AFP
 
Penitents wearing hoods take part in a Holy Week procession in Verges, northeastern Spain, on March 29, 2018. 
 
People watch the “Jesus Nazareno, el pobre y Maria Santisima del Dulce Nombre” (Jesus the Nazarene, the poor and Holy Mary of the Sweet Name) procession on Easter Holy Week's Maundy Thursday in Madrid
 
Penitents carry a figure of Jesus the Nazarene on Maundy Thursday in Madrid. Photo: AFP
 
A woman sporting the traditional Spanish 'mantilla' (shawl) takes part in a procession in Madrid,  Photo: AFP
 
Spanish legionnaires carry a crucifix figure depicting 'El Cristo de la Buena Muerte' (Christ of the Good Death) to Santo Domingo de Guzman church during the 'Cristo de Mena' Holy Week procession on March 29th in Malaga, southern Spain.
 
The legionnaires hoist a statue of Christ on His cross above their heads using just one hand each.
 
And for those who want to see the performance in full, check out this video: 
Meanwhile in northern Spai, cross carrying is made to look a little bit more difficult.
 
A penitent tied with a rope round the neck carries a cross during the 'El Ensogado' (The roped) procession on Easter Holy Week's Maundy Thursday in the northern Spanish village of Sietamo 
 
Some children hold candles as a penitent tied with a rope round the neck carries a cross during the 'El Ensogado' (The roped) procession on Easter Holy Week's Maundy Thursday in the northern Spanish village of Sietamo.
 
Dancers perform the Dance of the Death during a Holy Week procession in Verges, northeastern Spain, on March 30, 2018. 
 
Dancers dress in body stockings with skeletons painted on them and carry symbols to stir the people and prepare them for a good death.
 
Penitents of the “Cristo Salvador y del Amparo” brotherhood carry a statue of Jesus on a cross during a Good Friday procession on a beach in Valencia as part of the Holy Week on March 30, 2018. 
 
Penitents of the El Cachorro brotherhood parade over Triana bridge during a Good Friday procession as part of the Holy Week in Sevilla on March 30, 2018. 

Penitents of the “La O” brotherhood parade over Triana bridge during a Good Friday procession as part of the Holy Week in Sevilla on March 30, 2018. 

At at last the royal family, King Felipe VI of Spain, his wife Queen Letizia, their daughters Princess Sofia (front C) and Princess Leonor (front R), former King Juan Carlos I and his wife former Queen Sofia pose after attending the traditional Easter Sunday Mass of Resurrection in Palma de Mallorca.

 

EASTER

How Spain is celebrating Holy Week in lockdown

In the week leading to Easter Sunday, hundreds of colourful processions featuring penitents in cone-shaped hoods and centuries-old religious floats traditionally flood the streets of villages and cities across Spain.

How Spain is celebrating Holy Week in lockdown
Photos: AFP

But with a nationwide lockdown in place to curb the spread of COVID-19, Spaniards are finding ways to mark Holy Week from their homes, by blasting religious music from their balconies or viewing videos of last year's parades.   

In the western city of Salamanca, the association of religious brotherhoods that organises processions is posting pictures on social media of religious icons that would normally be paraded through the streets at the hour that would have taken place. 

“And on our YouTube channel we are posting a video of the procession from last year,” association president Jose Adrian Cornejo told AFP.   

There is one part of the processions that can still go ahead — the singing of “saetas”, short, flamenco prayers sung from balconies which are especially popular in the southwestern region of Andalusia.

Saetas are usually sung as effigies of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary are carried past, but this year they are being performed to empty streets.    

Type in “saetas of confinement” on YouTube and several events come up, including one by Alex Ortiz in Seville — which is not staging Easter processions for the first time since 1933 —  who sings of a “sad spring” without “drums or bugles” in the streets.

 

Toilet paper roll icon

Pablo Murillo, a Catholic father of four, said he was celebrating Holy Week with “more seclusion”.

He was supposed to take part in a Palm Sunday procession but instead listened to the traditional “marchas” — special musical compositions featuring wind instruments and drums that accompany the floats — at home with his sons.

“My oldest who is 12 puts the speakers in the bathroom, and takes a shower while listening to the Holy Week 'marchas',” Murillo said.   

He lives near Seville's largest hospital and every night many neighbours blast “marchas” from their balconies after applauding healthcare workers at 8:00 pm, as people are doing across Europe.

This bus driver in Seville gave his own performance.

While this bus, also in Seville, emulated the processions that would usually be taking place in the city during Semana Santa, entertaining onlooking residents with the jerky movements and sudden lurches that are typical of a float being transported by shuffling penitents.

 

Some people have violated the lockdown rules to celebrate Easter, meanwhile.

In Puerta de Segura, a small town of whitewashed houses in Andalusia, several people left their homes to imitate a procession, with one man carrying a drum and a woman wearing a blanket wrapped around her head like the veils depicted in the statue of the Virgin Mary, images on Spanish TV showed.   

In the nearby town of Porcuna nine women dressed in black and carrying candles walked through the streets, while in the northern city of Palencia two men dressed in a tunic and hood held a mock procession by carrying an “icon” made of toilet paper rolls.

'Really struggling'

Police have joined in on the act. In Seville, two municipal police cars drove slowly in front of a church, stopping at times before moving on just like Holy Week floats do, to the tune of religious music.

With processions called off, many religious brotherhoods have focused on helping fight the coronavirus pandemic that has claimed more than 14,500 lives in Spain, one of the highest tolls in the world.


A man walks past the Pieta Chapel in Seville, adorned with flowers and candles left by the faithful as Easter processions were cancelled. Photo: AFP

In the northern city of Valladolid, 20 brotherhoods donated €1,000 ($1,085) each to buy protective equipment and other urgently needed supplies for healthcare workers, said local association leader Isaias Martinez Iglesias.

Pablo Alen of Seville's Carreteria brotherhood said it would take a “relatively big” economic hit this year, because it will not collect any donations from participants during the traditional Good Friday parade.

With less money coming in the brotherhood's priority is to focus on its charity work such as a soup kitchen, so it will postpone planned restorations of its religious artworks, he added.

“There are people who are asking for help, who are really struggling,” Alen noted.

By Alvaro Villalobos and Emmanuel Michel

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