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.


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