Friday, April 22, 2011

The holy stuff:

Semana Santa. Holy Week.

In Sevilla, it's kind of world famous. But for those of you who may not know the details, it has nothing to do with Santa Claus coming to town. Actually, it's about someone much more important.

Alemania. Germany.
I spent the first part, Palm Sunday through Wednesday, in Germany (Ahh!!!! So Awesome!!!!). I know, it's a hard life. I went to a Palm Sunday service in the Lutherhaus (Martin Luther's crib). That service an hour of worship, completely in German.

You know, I think that when I return to the USA, it's going to be really strange to hear the Word spoken in english again. (I won't have an excuse anymore for totally spacing out and usually just staring at the architecture). In Wittenberg, we went to a Protestant service that followed the same order of service as the Lutheran churches I've been going to my whole life, so it made it a little easier to figure out what was going on despite the language barrier. However, the only words I really understood were: Hallelujah, liebe (love), Gott (God), Jesus, himmel (heaven), and amen.


During this service, Kelly and I also got to take the Lord's Supper (including the wine/blood! Unlike in the Catholic Masses). I felt a little out of place, despite the fact that I finally looked like I fit in amounst all the Saxons. However, after we Communed, the circle of believes all took hands as the Pastor blessed and prayed over us. It was kind of nice.

España. Spain.
In Andalucia, Semana Santa is a completely different sort of stuff.

On Viernes Santo (Good Friday) Consuelo kept telling me over and over about how wonderful the oficio (service) is in the Catedral. I had planned to stay indoors with a cup of tea and, ugh, do homework. However, she then proceeded to guilt me into leaving for church by asking me if there are oficios during Semana Santa in my "religion."

So after looking up the time online, I put on a dress, my boots, a peacoat and scarf to face the stormy day.

A stormy Good Friday seems appropriate, even though the rain means that I didn't get to see any of the incredibly ornate pasos leave their churches on Thursday nor on Friday. ¡Qué pena! People keep saying, because it is a shame. Very old and covered in gold and silver means that with any chance of rain, they cancel the processions, leaving the umbrella toting crowd disappointed outside the churches. At least I could take pictures of the pasos inside their churches and the women dressed in their traditional Mantillas and some of the men in the religious brotherhoods who wear Capirotes:

Like most Spanish schedules, the website had posted the incorrect time, leading me to arrive an hour early to the Good Friday service...which actually turned out to be really great for finding a seat up front!
(The picture of the Catedral right before the service. Directly after, I was told that picture were not allowed. You can see the gate, in front of the altar, as well as the lectern where one of the readers delivered his parts).

I got a great seat in front of an Italian tour group, in between a German couple and a Spanish couple. The Spaniards left after dozing through the first hour.

The whole thing was very similar to a traditional Good Friday service in a Lutheran Church (without the famous Bible-slam and dimmed lights). There was a reading of the Passion story, but it was chanted, or cantored. I LOVED this. One priest cantored the narration, one cantored Jesus' part, and another sang for the main figures, like Peter and Pilate.

Unlike the Protestant service in Germany, people filled the Catedral's rows and rows of uncomfortable, wooden seats. There weren't just two groups of people communing, but rather too many to count. After the choir sang, the Pastor--er, I mean, Bishop/Obispo (?)-- preached about the healing power of the cross and the love of Christ.

And that's when it hit me: I actually understood (basically) everything. Of course, I was a little puzzled by the men dressed like Roman soldiers and the numerous wardrobe changes (the padres and obispos changed their outer garb once or twice. No sé porque). But it was the words. They floated out like puzzle-piece butterflies that fit nicely in my mind. Didn't think that sort of thing would ever happen, but it did.

After the 2 1/2 hour services, the Pastor--um, I mean Obispo--delivered a benediction. The people crossed themselves, some kneeled for a silent prayer, and we all left into the stormy, Good Friday.

Por fin, la ilusión de la Semana Santa.
Finally, the exciting stuff.
Finally, moments of clear sky and pure light came into view during the afternoon of Sábado Santo, or Holy Saturday...

That's when I finally got to experience Semana Santa in Sevilla!

I saw on Facebook (Can you believe the technology these days?) that the paso de la Parroquia de San Diego de Alcalá, Capilla del Sol, (Random Sevillan Church) finally decided to let it's pasos of Cristo and La Virgen Maria proceed to the Catedral!

I just kind of walked to the center of town and asked someone where the pasos would come from. That's the thing Spain, there isn't ever clear information posted (just go through an airport and you'll see what I mean). I had the names and times of the pasos and that's it. (I felt bad for the tourists who were just walking around with their maps and Yankees baseball caps, oblivious to how we do things in Spain).

I found the silly side street and waited amongst the mobs of people. Anticipation mounted. I didn't really know if it was coming. We were all just waiting, for what, I wasn't sure.

Finally this is what came down my path:
(The hermandades don't dress like the KKK, the KKK dress like the Hermandades. They are supposed to be modestly paying penance to God through this whole experience. It has nothing to do with White Supremacy. It's supposed to conceal their identity rather.)
(There are men underneath these pasos, carrying it. Slowly).

The pasos usually enter the Catedral and then return to their original churches.
It started raining really hard as La Reina passed by me. Close to the Catedral, the men carrying the paso tried to get her inside as quickly as possible. The doors were closed and the pasos waited for the rain to end. It didn't. For that reason, the will stay there until next week or so.

Tomorrow is Easter. He is risen. I'm going to Sevilla's Lutheran Church to celebrate the day. I hope the Easter bunny brings me a box of stale, sugar-crusted peeps shaped like bunnies. I'll probably have to wait for the States for those... They don't have Easter baskets in Spain.

But they do have these:

(Pestiños de miel)

Even without the Cadbury cream-eggs, I'd say it's still a good time.

**I hope the videos work. If they don't, leave a comment and I'll try to figure it out.


  1. (Tilt your head for the second video and pretend I'm not too dumb to figure out how to turn it)...

  2. Okay, also, I'll be honest. I miss American Easter candy. Honey-glazed things disappoint those who have sampled Cadbury Creme Eggs...

  3. Oh my gosh I have seen a paso before! In Guatemala, they have pasos during lent leading up to Easter. The men all wore the same "KKK" type gowns, but the ones they wore were purple. The float we saw was amazing because it had Moses holding the ten commandments, angels and Jesus carrying the cross. I can't remember what else. I should post the pictures that we took on FB

  4. Part of Mission Impossible II was filmed in Spain and right before Ethan gets his mission brief he's standing on the balcony watching the men carry the pasos down the street. Ah, rich cultures make me want to be an international man of espionage. Also I've never had cadbury creme eggs. Maybe I'll get some for the after-Easter sales.

  5. My favorite parts:
    "They floated out like puzzle-piece butterflies that fit nicely in my mind."
    "(I felt bad for the tourists who were just walking around with their maps and Yankees baseball caps, oblivious to how WE do things in Spain)." (emphasis added)

    You have fit in there nicely. I'm so happy for you!
    You are living a wonderful life!
    Happy Easter!