Holy Week is Seville’s main festival. It is represented by more than fifty Penitence Brotherhoods in Seville (practically in each neighbourhood there is one); each Brotherhood with hundreds of brothers, and may even be accompanied in their procession by more than a thousand Nazarenes.
Throughout the year there are events related to Holy Week in Seville: Conferences, Proclamations, Via Crucis, Besamanos or Triduos.
⛪ The story of Holy Week in Seville
In this devout context, Seville has lived its Holy Week with intensity since ancient times. The Brotherhood of Seville, which happens to be the oldest Brotherhood -the Brotherhood of Silence-, was founded in 1340, being able to be the direct antecedent of the Via Crucis procession that since the 16th century was celebrated between the Casa de Pilatos and the Cruz del Campo.
The Baroque is the great period of Holy Week in Seville. In the heat of the Council of Trent, which fosters the cult of sacred images, a superb school of religious wood carvings arises, combining drama, sweetness and anatomical perfection, with outstanding figures such as Martínez Montañés, Juan de Mesa, Ruiz Gijón or La Roldana.
⛪ How to celebrate Holy Week in Seville
The nucleus of Holy Week is formed by the processions; each Brotherhood, on the day that corresponds to it, makes a penitence station from its temple to the Cathedral, which they cross and then return to their home.
Each procession is a procession formed by Nazarenes (nazarenos), dressed in tunics of the colour of the Brotherhood, the face covered by a mask, and carrying either a lit candle in the hand or a cross on the shoulder.
They are ordered by sections, each headed by a distinctive insignia of the Brotherhood. Presiding over the processions are the footsteps, carried by costaleros squads and on which go the sacred images, which represent the different passages of the Passion of Christ, or Painful Virgins, which go under canopy.
The steps are elaborated works of art, of great baroque style. In them not only the sacred images stand out, but the goldwork of candelabra, rods and vents, the embroidery in gold of canopies, mantles and tunics, and even the artistic disposition of wax candles and flowers.
⛪ The music of Holy Week
During Holy Week in Seville, music is very important; the steps are usually accompanied by bands that perform processional marches, although there are more austere brotherhoods whose steps are accompanied by wind trios, or even without any musical accompaniment.
Particularly exciting are the saetas, torn flamenco prayers interpreted in a dry palo (i.e. without accompaniment of any instrument) that a cantaor dedicates to the images, from a balcony, generally spontaneously. The processions awaken an enormous popular devotion, with intense and emotional moments. It is not strange that many tears flow before a step.
⛪ How they dress at Holy Week in Seville
In Seville Holy Week has its own idiosyncrasy; it is traditional to wear a new piece of clothing on Palm Sunday. On Maundy Thursday and Maundy Friday the men wear dark suits, and the women wear the black mantilla. There are also numerous foods typical of Holy Week: spinach with chickpeas, codfish with tomato, torrijas, etc..
During the week of the first full moon of spring, while the orange trees begin to sprout orange blossom, Seville is paralyzed and is overwhelmed by its Holy Week.