As we’re approaching Easter, here are eighteen things you need to know about Semana Santa in Spain and Latin America:
1 – Semana Santa commemorates the Passion of Christ in the Catholic tradition.
2 – It takes place the week directly before Easter.
3 – It is considered the major celebration in Spain and most Latin American countries.
4 – Each ‘paso’ (religious float carried on shoulders) can weigh over 1,000 kilograms.
5 – It takes about 40-50 men, called Nazarenos and organized in ‘cofradias’ (brotherhoods) to carry one paso.
6 – Some Nazarenes walk barefoot with shackles and chains for up to 14 hours.
7 – Despite appearances, Nazarenes have nothing to do with the KKK.
8 – In Latin America, many celebrate Easter with a mix of indigenous and European Catholic tradition. For example, in Peru’s Ayacucho, locals chant in the Quechua language.
9 – In southern Spain, participants sing flamenco-origins ‘saeta’ (literally arrow to the heart) during the processions.
10 – Seville, Leon, Malaga and Cartagena are some of the most famous Spanish cities for their processions.
11 – Zamora is home to one of the oldest traditions (13th century), nocturnal processions are marked with silence and meditation.
12 – In Bolivia, thousands make a 150 km pilgrimage over just two days from La Paz to the Copacabana Sanctuary on the shores of Lake Titicaca.
13 – In Latin America ‘alfombras de aserrín’ (rugs traditionally made of colored sand, flowers, and fruits) usually cover the streets where processions pass.
14 – In Spain, ‘torrija’ is traditionally enjoyed during Semana Santa.
15 – Ecuadorians eat ‘fanesca’, a bean and grain soup with a fish base, only during Semana Santa.
16 – In Brazil’s state of Pernambuco they set up the largest open air theatre in the world – 61 square kilometres – to host the Passion of Christ.
17 – Mexico city’s Iztapalapa organises one of the largest processions in the world, where up to 3 million people take part in the Passion plays.
18 – The color purple plays a significant role in the Christian religion during Semana Santa, it is related to suffering.
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