The celebrations of Holy Week in Seville, along with those of the April Fair, are known as the “Fiestas de la Primavera“.
From “Dolores Friday” to Easter Sunday, about 70 Brotherhoods take out their religious images in procession to walk through the streets of the city to commemorate the passion, death and resurrection of Christ.
This tradition, which started during the Middle Ages, was widely adopted by the brotherhoods of Seville in the 16th century, after the Council of Trent.
The Holy Week processions in Seville
The processions of Holy Week, with the exception of those on Friday of Dolores and Saturday of Passion, go to the Cathedral of Seville and return to their respective temples, all coinciding in a section known as the “Carrera Oficial” or Official Route, which begins in La Campana. It is essential to get an Easter Program, on paper or digital, to know the schedules and routes of each procession.
The six most important brotherhoods of Seville’s Holy Week process through the streets during the night of Holy Thursday to Good Friday, in what is colloquially known as “la Madrugá“: the “Silencio” (Silence), the “Gran Poder” (Great Power), the “Macarena”, the “Calvario” (Calvary), the “Esperanza de Triana” (Hope of Triana) and the “Gitanos” (Gypsies).
The processions are preceded by the Guiding Cross, accompanied by a pair of lanterns. Behind them procession sections of Nazarenes: brothers who, hiding their identity under a tunic and a hood, carry a candle or one or more crosses as penance. Some even do it barefoot.
After the penitents, with their faces uncovered, go the acolytes, who carry candles and a censer, and immediately afterwards, the “paso”. The brotherhoods usually have two “pasos” preceded by sections of Nazarenes. These “pasos” are carved wooden platforms decorated with flowers and candles on which one or more religious polychrome wooden sculptures are placed. The first of the “pasos” usually represents the crucified Lord (“Paso de Cristo”) and the other the Virgin Mary, dressed in an embroidered mantle and covered by an embroidered canopy held by silver rods (“Paso de Palio”).
Under the “paso”, hidden behind a velvet skirt, are the gangs of “costaleros”, who are relieved along the route of the way through the city. They are members of the brotherhood who volunteer to do this work as penance. Each “costalero” can carry on his neck, protected by a sack, between 25 and 50 kilos depending on the “paso”. The “costaleros” are directed by the “capataz”, in charge of skillfully leading the way through the streets of the city.
Finally, a music band usually goes after the “pasos” performing processional marches. Certain brotherhoods, known as “de silencio”, either lack a band or only have a trio or quartet made up of bassoon, clarinet and oboe.
At this festival, declared of International Tourist Interest in 1980, the public occasionally becomes the protagonist. It is tradition that children approach the Nazarenes to ask for sweets and make multicolored balls with the wax that they pour from their candles. It is also a tradition that, from the balconies, hired or spontaneous artists sing a flamenco “saetas” as the images of the procession pass, or that the most devoted brothers of the images shout compliments as the virgin passes by in their procession.