Easter in Spain

Easter in Spain or as the Spanish call it Semana Santa is probably the biggest and most important event of the year. The Spanish Catholic church celebrates this time of year with Domingo de Ramos (Palm Sunday) and end with Lunes de Pascua (Easter Monday). People in every town and city get involved in processions and celebrations, it's as if all Spain comes alive!

Celebrations vary from town to town but essentially they are celebrating life and culture with music and dance in a religious manner and it's some spectacle. Processions wind through the streets carrying their religious symbols and icons, with huge crowds watching on in a very emotional state. We strongly recommend that if you are panning to visit Spain over the festive period that you witness the solemn masses and processions, it's an experience that will stay with you for a very long time.

Cities such as Seville for example demonstrate how the "cofradías" (religious brotherhoods) manage to withstand the colossal weight of elaborately decorated statues of the Virgin Mary as they parade through the narrow streets of the old town. Semena Santa in Lorca is very original, the processions include figures and scenes from the bible and from ancient civilisations.


Easter/Semana Santa

Palm Sunday - Domingo de Ramos
Holy Thursday - Jueves Santo
Good Friday - Santo Entierro
Easter Sunday - El Domingo de Resurreccion

Spanish Terminology for Easter

Corpus Cristi
This is the main ritual practiced in Spain at Easter. The town's streets are used as a grand stage for religious and passionate displays of devotion to Christ, residents dress as members of ancient brotherhoods and parade through the town.

La Patum
This is a traditional Easter ritual that can include a procession of giants, monsters and devil like creatures.

Judas Dolls
These are made of straw and sometimes made to resemble famous people, these dolls are burned in the streets.

Semana Santa
Spanish for 'Holy Week'.

Costaleros
The name given to the people that carry the floats with the religious statues on. A 'Costal' is a small cushion often carried and used to stop the float causing sores when being carried long distances. These floats are immensely heavy and can weigh up to 6 tons.

Domingo de Ramos
Palm Sunday. The first of the Easter Masses and processions. Palms are carried through the town. The palms are used to symbolise the palms that people threw on the road in front of Jesus as he entered Jerusalem. People carry small items made of woven palm which are often later burned. The ashes may be used in ceremonies on Ash Wednesday.

Procesion del Silencio
The Procession of Silence which is held on Jueves Santo (Holy Thursday).

Santo Entierro
The Holy Burial, honoured on Viernes Santo (Holy Friday).

El Domingo de Resurreccion
Easter Sunday on which everyone goes to church and celebrates the resurrection of Christ.

Nazarenos
These are people who follow the floats whose appearance could almost be confused with that of the Klu Klux Clan. The cone shaped head gear that is worn is actually due to the belief that it will bring them closer to the heavens.

Torrijas
A traditional Easter snack which consists of slices of bread soaked in a mixture of whisked eggs and milk then fried in olive oil and sprinkled with sugar. (Cooked similar to French toast).

La Mona de Pascua
A traditional Easter cake, with origins in the 15th century. These vary considerably and are often highly decorated, the shops and supermarket shelves are full with them.