...being there, but without the crowds

...being there, but without the crowds

The processions

1. Processione diurna

1. Processione diurna

2. Processione notturna

2. Processione notturna

3. La piazza principale

3. La piazza principale

1. Photo by Alper Çuğun - CC 2.0 licence

Though some processions are already scheduled starting from the Friday before Palm Sunday, it is only from this day that the Brotherhoods go through the key locations of the town centre to reach the Cathedral. To be exact, in 2019, 60 processions were scheduled for the days from Sunday to Holy Saturday, with an average of 1,500 people per Brotherhood.

Each procession follows the same basic model, but of course each Brotherhood has its own, well-defined identity which emerges in various ways: from the colours of their habits and capirotes to the standards that represent them, from the works of art which they carry with them to their own personal attitude during the penitential walk. The brethren who physically form the processions are divided into various “characters” and are men, women and children. And the well being of children is precisely the main reason why processions are usually cancelled in case of rain: each Brotherhood carries out only one procession a year, but as we said, this will last several hours. Already wearing the capirote, carrying a cross, a large candle or a thurible is quite uncomfortable and tiring; add to this water pouring down from the sky, soaking the beautiful habits and putting the candles out, this would truly be a further and useless penitence.

The majority of Brotherhoods, though not all, are followed by a musical band which performs traditional accompanying music. The quality of these bands is surprisingly high if we compare them to those at similar events, and the performance gives an enormous emphasis and enrichment to the pathos of the movement; and no less great is the impact of those Brotherhoods which march in absolute silence, definitely favoured by the always composed behaviour of onlookers.

It would be a pity to merely watch a few processions: the differences among them, in a shared commitment to perform and represent in any case the same raison d’etre, is what gives so much value to Seville’s Semana Santa. Just as much meaning and value are to be found in the countless features associated with the layout of the town or the architecture of this or that church: knowing where and when to go to see the one or that other detail should be a full part of the experience of Seville. In fact, it is in these moments that one has a clearer view of the dedication, care, iron will of the Sevillians in perpetuating this centuries-old tradition, bringing out its actual authenticity.