Sevilla’s Big Fiestas
Semana Santa, or Holy Week, in Sevilla originated in the Via Crucis started by the Duke of Medinaceli to honor the death of Jesus Christ. A procession was soon introduced as a main element of Semana Santa, with celebrants marching from the Duke’s palace to the small temple of Cruz del Campo. By the end of the nineteenth century, this religious festival had become the most important of the year throughout Sevilla.
The celebration is still a great event today, with almost fifty brotherhoods, called hermandades, participating in the eight-day long celebration. Each hermandad proceeds from its respective church to the Cathedral and then returns. All of the processions prove very interesting, the most popular being those of the Macarena, Esperanza de Triana and Gran Poder. On the Thursday of Semana Santa, Holy Thursday, women can be seen in traditional black veils, known as mantillas, in mourning of the death of Jesus Christ. This is the most important day of the week, and most everything in the city is closed. The most popular processions occur overnight from Thursday evening to Friday morning, lasting as long as 14 hours.
Nazarenos are the members of the hermandades accompanying the floats wearing pointed hats called capirotes, which date back to the time when those condemned by the courts were obligated to wear them as a sign of humiliation. Wearing a capirote is a sign of repentance. Everyone, including very young children, participates in the processions, usually handing out candy to other children watching the march. Women were not originally permitted to join the procession but today more women are becoming involved. A lot of work goes into the preparations for Semana Santa, with artisans such as gilders, restorers, musicians and carpenters preparing months before the event. As Semana Santa approaches, many of the costaleros, the men who carry the floats during the march, practice for the procession by carrying a wooden and metal structure through the streets. The musicians and bands also practice throughout the year.
Feria de Abril:
Sevilla’s Feria originated around 1850 as two salesmen set up a livestock sale in the Prado de San Sebastian, located outside of the city walls. In 1975, the festival was moved to Los Remedios and now stands as one of the most important fiestas in Seville. The Feria today is a week of partying day and night, attended by all, from the young to the old. Feria begins on Monday night, known as ¨fried fish night,” for the tradition of eating fried fish, and ends at midnight of the following Sunday with a fireworks display.
During Feria, there are small streets lined with canvas tents, casetas, decorated with great color in traditional Sevillian style. There are a great number of women dressed in traditional flamenco dresses, as well as horses and carriages walking through the streets during the day. Flamenco performances can be seen typically starting around noon, with amazing choreography. At the casetas, you can also find food and wine.
We hope you have a great time in Sevilla!
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