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18 facts about Semana Santa

Written by Laurent Escobar | 22nd March 2017 |

Category: Ecuador, Peru, Spain

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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.

Learn more about Semana Santa here.

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