There are decorated stands, chairs and barriers around the city and then those wax stains on the floor… – what is happening in Malaga? Last week it was Semana Santa, in english Holy Week, or in other words Easter.
Easter is a christian festivity with a big meaning. It is a calebration of the belief of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and is also known as the celebration of hope. In Spain, Easter is performed with many big processions in the week between Palm Sunday (Domingo de Ramos) and Easter Sunday (Domingo de Resurrección). This year it was the week between 14th and 21st of April and it really is a one-in-a-lifetime-event, especially in Andalusia, where the celebration of Semana Santa is bigger and more spectacular than in other cities in Spain. To experience this festivity at close quaters is really special and absolutely worth it. In the week before easter they already do trial processions to make sure, that everything will be going exactly as planned. People are preparing everything, buying the outfits for the processions and you can already see some of the thrones because they open the gates of some of the Casas de Hermanad (Fraternity Houses). You can see them preparing and cleaning the house and polishing the thrones.
In the week of Easter it is all ready and the processions can start. Until you have seen it in real, you would never believe how big they are and how many people are coming to see them. Throughout the easter week, thrones with Jesus Christ and Maria are being carried through the city. The thrones belong to the different brotherhoods (Cafradías) and they organise the processions. The procession starts with the thrones leaving the Casa de Hermanad, being accompanied by people wearing Capuchones (pointed hoods) and holding big candles, of which wax drops on the floor. The hoods are worn to stay anonymos, because in earlier days those people were sinners and didn’t want to be identified. The tradition is kept until today and therefore, those groups of hunderts of people wearing capuchones make the festivity really unique.
Those ornate floats are also followed by groups with drums and bands on the way around the city.
From time to time you can hear saetas, a typical religious music with flamenco influences. At the end of the procession the thrones are taken back to the Casa de Hermanad and it is celebrated greatly by the members of the brotherhood and many other excited people watching the spectacular.
As they walk very slowly and always stop for a while, the processions take many hours. Everyone is hoping that it won’t start raining, because the thrones are very valuable and should not get wet and damaged.
In the easter week in Malaga 45 processions of the different brotherhoods take place. There is no procession on Saturday and on Easter Sunday only one. The main ones take place on Holy Thursday and Holy Friday, which are festive days in Spain. Malaga even created an app for the Semana Santa, to see when which procession takes place and where they are walking at the moment. This app is not only useful to find out more about the history of the brotherhoods and to know when you should be in certain places to see the processions, but also to find out, which way you can still walk and how to get around some closed off roads. Otherwise it can happen, that you get stuck in a huge crowd of people, waiting for the thrones. It is really hard to pass the processions and the crowd to get to the place you want to be. Also it can happen, that with one wrong way, you end up in the middle of many processions and have to wait for a long time.
It is possible to reserve seats in the main places of the processions, to see them walk past. One seat for the week costs about 60 €. Also, balconies can be rented for a day, but this is more expensive. The Tribuna de los Pobres in Calle Calletería is a place with seats for free. This is where the name –stand of the poor people – comes from, as it doesn’t cost anything to sit there. Also, you can always watch from the roadside and just stop to see the processions.
It is highly recommended to at least see one procession, as the ambience is a really special one and the thrones are so beautiful and impressive. Even for non-christians it is a spectacle, which is worth seeing.
Even, when people tell you about the big processions and the great role of the Semana Santa in Spain beforehand, you can only believe it when you saw it with your own eyes. It is so impressve, that even if you don’t really want to see it at that time but you get stuck in the crowd, you just stop for a moment to take it all in and enjoy the ambience.
It is highly reccommendable to spend easter in Malaga and see this spectacular once. You will definitely remember this event for a very long time!