Semana Santa/Holy Week 2009

April 10, 2011 by  
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Check back here daily for photos and video from Antigua Guatemala. I will be photographing and getting video activities throughout the week. If you have questions about Antigua be sure and check out the most compressive site on the web for information on this beautiful city!

View photos at SmugMug

Semana Santa 2010 Seville Spain

March 31, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, Semana Santa Around the World

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Semana Santa 2010 in Seville Spain! Over the next few days we will be in Seville Spain taking photos and video of Holy Week 2010, please check back with us over the next few days and up coming weeks for photos, video and details that make Semana Santa so special in the hearts of so many.

Semana Santa Dates

November 25, 2008 by  
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Taking place sometime between March 22 and April 23 each year depending on when Easter falls, Semana Santa or Holy Week is a week long celebration that fills the streets, churches, bars and restaurants. Festivities run all week leading up to Easter and the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.


Semana Santa Dates




Viernes de Dolores

March 26 April 15

March 30

Sábado de Pasión

March 27

April 16

March 31

Domingo de Ramos

March 28

April 17

April 1

Lunes Santo

March 29

April 18

April 2

Martes Santo

March 30

April 19

April 3

Miércoles Santo

March 31

April 20

April 4

Jueves Santo

April 1

April 21

April 5

Viernes Santo

April 2

April 22

April 6

Sabado de Gloria

April 3

April 23

April 7

Domingo de la Resurrección

April 4

April 24

April 8


Semana Santa in Seville, Spain

November 25, 2008 by  
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Processions commemorating Jesus’ death and resurrection are the focus of Holy Week in Spain.The Holy Week is a moving and dramatic experience, especially in Andalucia. The Andalusians set out their processions to eclipse all others in splendor and pathos.” In Seville, you will witness some 60,000 participants proceeding from the chapel to the Metropolitan Cathedral and back. As will all Holy Week traditions, processions start on Palm Sunday and end on Easter Sunday.

“The oldest brotherhood of Seville, El Silencio, was created in 1340, but most of the brotherhoods were formed in the 16th century by clergy, noblemen, guild members, or racial minorities. In Granada, the brotherhoods are much younger. Except for San Agustín, they were all established in the 20th century. Today, members of brotherhoods consist of religious laymen only. They have their own symbols, traditions, and habits reflecting their religious and social background.”

Thanks to Paula Repo ( for quotes and information.

Semana Santa in Antigua, Guatemala

November 25, 2008 by  
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Many towns and villages celebrate Semana Santa (Holy Week) at Easter time. But no town celebrates it quite like Antigua. Declared a National Monument by the Guatemalan government in 1944 and named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, Antigua is steeped in both heritage and tradition. Semana Santa commemorates the last week of the earthly life of Jesus Christ, culminating in His crucifixion on Good Friday and His resurrection on Easter Sunday.

The entire city participates in this yearly event, from the very young to the very old. Additionally, thousands of visitors from all over the world flood Antigua to witness the dramatic processions and observe this somber, religious event. 

Semana Santa Overview

November 24, 2008 by  
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Semana Santa, Easter Week or the Passion of Christ is known through out the world as one of the most the most important celebrations in the Catholic Community. The festivities begin with the Domingo de Ramos (Palm Sunday) and end with Lunes de Pascua (Easter Monday). It is a celebration of the last days of the Christ’s life and communities around the world come alive.

Each area, city and town has it’s own accent on it’s celebrations. They all differ but in common they all portray life, color, culture, music and dance, all with a very religious meaning.

In many cities the processions go on for miles and will last until the early hours of the morning, every night through the Easter week. Children as young as 3 or 4 take part and crowds will swell into hundreds of thousands.

In many communities, the full Passion Play is enacted from the Last Supper, the Betrayal, the Judgment, the Procession of the 12 Stations of the Cross, the Crucifixion and, finally, the Resurrection. Participants are costumed and play their parts with reverence.

Everywhere, processions make their way through the streets, carrying religious icons and symbols of their faith. In Antigua alone there are over 100 of these such images. Semana Santa has to be experienced first hand to be fully appreciated and no words can begin to describe the emotions that flow like water, wherever you go. If you have the opportunity to sample these festivities, take it! One thing is sure, the images, music and  experiences will stay with you forever.

During this week, many schools and offices are closed. You can expect many areas to be crowded as people take advantage of the holiday.

Semana Santa Essential Vocabulary

November 24, 2008 by  
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Acólitos: (Altar boys): In charge of carrying processional candlesticks and incense in front of the canopied floats.

Antifaz: (Masks, veils): Pieces of cloth or hood worn by some members of the procession that cover the head and face of the Nazarene penitents, opened with two slits at eye level. They preserve the identity of the brothers.

Armao: Macarena’s brother dressed up as a Roman legionary who strolls behind the Jesús de la Sentencia float (the Christ figure pertaining to the Macarena brotherhood).

Banda de música: The band that accompanies all of the processions except for the silent ones.

Bulla: Huge crowds of people who congregate alongside the religious floats and in specific areas following the routes of the procession.

Capataz (Overseers): Men who are situated in front of the floats guiding the steps of the costaleros (team who transport the huge floats on their shoulders); overseeing the success of these monumental floats make way through the winding streets of Seville.

Capillita: Popular name given to those people involved throughout the whole year in everything regarding brotherhood activities and whose efforts are culminated during Holy Week.

Capirote: Pieces of cardboard that Nazarenes wear on head, under hooded robe. No nicknames such as capirucho or cucurucho (conehead) are accepted.

Centuria: (Centurion): Armed soldiers, proud protectors of the Macarena. Well worth observing them as they parade by. It is no easy task belonging to this group of guards.

Cirial: (Processional candles): Tall candles carried by altar boys who from a distant bring joy and relief to crowds who’ve been waiting impatiently; announcers of the final arrival of a float.

Costal: Piece of cloth that the costaleros place on their heads to assist in carrying the heavy weight of the floats.

Costaleros: Men who carry the religious floats. In ancient times they were carried by dock-workers or masons who were hired for this event. Nowadays most costaleros are members of brotherhoods who even pay a quota to participate.

Cruz de guía: (Guiding cross): Which opens the procession flanked by two Nazarenes carrying lanterns.

Chicotá: Name given to the actual route a float carries out, from the moment in which the capataz indicates the commencement by raising his voice, until it reaches its final destination.

Esparto: Type of wide skirt made of esparto grass worn often by Nazarenes on top of their robes.

Hermano mayor: (Head brother): In charge of brotherhood of Nazarenes, chosen democratically. Often carries a golden post during the procession.

Incensario: (Censer): Ceremonial brass container with top and chains, in which incense is burned. Its smoky presence is key in pervading all senses, especially smell.

Levantá: Moment in which the capataz rings a bell indicating the lifting of the floats. Depending on the type/size of the float, this movement is made in one gesture or slowly.

Llamador: Metal bell, located on the front of the float which the capataz rings with a small hammer, indicating the lifting or putting down of the float. Some are examples of extraordinary craftmanship.

Madrugá: The night/dawn between Holy Thursday and Good Friday during which time the Pasión de Jesús (Christ’s Passion) occurs; the most intense moment of the Holy Week.

Mantilla: (Lace mantilla): Piece of embroidered cloth used with a large ornate comb is traditionally used my women of Seville the afternoon of Holy Thursday and to a lesser extent on the morning of Good Friday; defining the traditional female.

Manto: Large ornately embroidered noble cloaks which drape over the effigey of the Virgin and extended over a large frame, covers the back of the float.

Marcha: (March): Musical composition that accompany most of the routes of the floats, many of which are of beautiful pieces and of enormous musical quality. Examples include works such as: Amargura, Virgen del Valle or Jesús de las Penas.

Mecer: (Swaying): Peculiar movement made by costaleros in rhythm to the music. Accompanied by others who sway the lanterns, dressed in cloaks; all together provide a splendourous spectacle.

Monumento: (Monument): The stagging of the floats composed of statues of angles, candlesticks, flowers and other decorative motifs are placed in numerous churches on Holy Thursday to commemorate the institution of the Eucarist. These stages represent the last remains of ephemeras Rennaisance and Baroque architecture.

Nazareno: (Nazarenes): Brotherhood members who make up the processional entourage and who carry candles or insignias, are dressed in tunics, capes and masked.

Palcos: (Stands): Tiers set up in Plaza de San Francisco, adjacent to the City Hall and considered the most “noble” section of the Official Route (Carrera Oficial). These terrace seats are not rented on a daily fee and can take years to reserve.

Palio: Cloth canopies that cover a framework of poles which support the religious floats, acting as a roof protecting the statue of the Virgin. Many are authentic works of art, embroidery and craftsmanship.

Paso: (Religious Floats and Sculptures): Group of images and statues carried on these stages. They can be scenes of Christ, Jesus, the Virgin Mary or a series of sculptures representing a specific scene of the Passion, know as misterio (mystery).

Penitente: (Penitent): Brotherhood members of the processional entourage who carry wooden crosses, dressed in tunics and masked. Unlike the Nazarenes, they do not wear a cape.

Recogida: (Retreating): Path taken by cofradías from the Cathedral back to their temples.

Saeta: (Flamenco style song): Brief flamenco ballad usually sung from a balcony. The lyrics are an emotional praise to the respective effigies and statues.

Trabajadera: Large wooden beams that the costaleros use to carry the floats.

Varal: (Metal poles): Twelve vertical poles that support the canopies framework of the floats. These beautifully decorated crafted pieces characteristically represent the slight movement of the floats carried by the costaleros.

Viewing Holy Week Processions

November 24, 2008 by  
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Viewing the Processions
If people are on the curb waiting to see the procession, do not arrive late and expect to stand in front them. It is customary to stand behind them on the sidewalk (but only if there is room). If you try to get behind people but there is no room, don’t be surprised if people refuse to let you through.  If you attempt to stand in front of people, you will most likely be asked to move—sometimes politely, sometimes not. After all, people have been standing there for hours to get a good place. Curbs mark boundaries of where you should and shouldn’t be. If you’re in the street, you may need to move out of the way as processions go by. Higher places, such as stairs, trash containers, etc., are often prized places and often go fast.

People travel from all over the world to witness Holy Week processions. Therefore, be prepared for lots of people—LOTS of people. These will be some of the biggest crowds you’ve ever seen, densely crammed in narrow streets. Patience is required. You’ll often see parents with baby strollers, lifting them over their heads to get through the tightest spots. You’ll also see people who insist on moving through an already packed crowd in hopes of getting a better view. So be prepared for people who will not let you pass. Finally, be prepared for a lot of pushing as you navigate through the crowds. 

Dressing up
People frequently dress up in honor of such a holy event, especially on Thursday (Jueves Santo), Friday (Viernes Santo), and Palm Sunday (Domingo de Ramos). Some women even wear high heels! However, for La madrugá people wear comfortable clothing. Keep in mind that whatever you wear, you might be wearing it for upwards of 10-12 hours while waiting and then watching the processions and other Semana Santa activities. Thursday and Friday during the day you’ll see some women dressed in black and with mantillas in mourning of the death of Jesus. 

Silence and light
The crowds will often hush others as processions approach. Respect the silence! The nazarenos in these processions are also forbidden to talk with anyone once dressed. Street, store front, and apartment lights are also turned off for some of the processions, such as El Silencio. 

It is OK to take pictures. Professional and amateur photographers alike come from all over the world to take pictures of this blessed, holy event.

Petty theft
Tourists, crowds in close proximity to each other, cameras, and of course money for food and souvenirs all make Semana Santa an ideal place for pickpockets. I had about 70 quetzals stolen one evening. Keep your belongings close and remain aware of your surroundings. 

Don’t touch
Although it seems like an obvious statement to say “Don’t touch the processions as they pass by,” it is still worth saying. Uphold the sanctity of the processions and what they represent by not touching them.

Because rain can damage the imagines and other items carried during the processions, Semana Santa processions are cancelled during rain. Weather is closely monitored by radio, with everyone listening in to see if a procession will or will not leave that day. If a procession is cancelled, it is not uncommon to see the people involved with that procession crying and deeply saddened; after all, they practiced or planned all year. A cancelled procession is truly a disappointment.

Patience! Don’t be afraid to ask a local.

November 23, 2008 by  
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Keep in mind that with all the crowds and multiple processions, it is impossible to experience all that Semana Santa has to offer. It would be the equivalent of expecting to see all that Disney World has to offer in one day! So the best thing to do is map out the week’s events like you would any other trip—find out the procession’s routes, choose the ones you want to see, map out their routes, choose a spot you think will afford you the best view, and then wait till your procession goes by. Expect to be standing for long periods of time (10-12 hours in some cases).

 Allow extra time to get places. With the thousands of people flooding the city streets, a 2-block walk might take 40 minutes, not 12.

 And finally, don’t be afraid to ask a local for his opinion, using the local language if possible. Locals have the best knowledge of routes, the best places to view processions, and other nuggets of information that you might not think of.