Today I' like to go with you to Andalusia. In 1993 I spent the most intensive Easter Week in my whole life there! In Bavaria, this is a quiet time not really touching our busy, everyday lives. In parts of Spain and Italy, the last days in Jesus' life are a very public, impressive spectacle in the streets.
It' s early in the morning and the weather in Sevilla is gloomy and drowsy - just like the sleepy mood in the streets.
The entrances to the patios are still closed.
The colors of the tiles (azulejos) are also quite impressive in the diffuse morning light.
The sun returns to the streets and places like here at the Plaza de Cruzes.
Now the souvenirs shops are waking up.
Then we see it for the first time - the tower of the Giralda! Originally, it was a mosque, the architecture and the name remind us of the moors. The moor tower has been redesigned into a Catholic bell tower.
There are wonderful mansions to see like the "Casa de Pilates" with its violet waterfall made of Bougainvilleas.
Land of milk and honey? After all, the bananas are growing into your mouth right in the middle of the city....... Ok, not totally, but I' m only 1.60 meter tall!
Suddenly and unexpectedly they are standing in front of us. A cold shiver is running down my back. It' s deathly silence except for these motionless forms - is this the Inquisition?
A brotherhood (Hermandad) is forming the first procession. The people met at the church grounds and, after a common prayer, prepared for the procession on the streets.
The vanguard are the officers, followed by a music group mainly with wind instrumentalists and drummers. After a penance group with crosses or scourges, very often without shoes, comes a set-up which changes every day during this week, showing what Jesus did exactly on this day. Further groups with crosses, candles and flags are followed by a second set-up with Maria. A second music group comprises the end of the procession.
Depending on how rich the material of the set-ups from Maria and Jesus are, it' s possible to see, how rich the hermandad is. Some churches have famous bull-fighters as patrones, who are proud to donate the money for the clothes of Maria. These are often made of velvet and silk and embroidered with pearls and diamonds to thank the God mother for having won hard fights.
Here you can see easily what is under the set-ups! Men, strong men shouldering the heavy beams under the command of two officers. Yet, they use their shoulders, they use their bowed heads! The only help is a cloth wound around their heads (see above). The air under the sep-ups is really terrible because they are crowded together working hard the whole evening in the streets. Sometimes, the men leave to have a short break in-between.
I want to here more about the tradition of the brotherhoods and so I visit a monastery. The evening comes but it' s still light.
The churches are filled with flowers and candles like the set-ups in the streets. The only proof of the saddest week in the year of the Catholic church is the fact that all Jesus representations are covered with a cloth.
Suddenly I' m in a group celebrating taking a baby into a brotherhood. The parents present it all to the photographers. I can see this Baby (1993) now in my mind's eye.....how it, now a teenager, is proudly marching this week through the streets of Sevilla with a candle in this brotherhood. The clothes of every brotherhood have their own color, here green/white, and special flags and emblems.
Meanwhile it' s night over Sevilla and the darkness swallows the details we saw very well in the daylight. In candlelight, however, the procession is more impressive than during the day.
The music is more penetrating, more lamenting, and the set-ups seem heavier, the people on the streets are more silent and moved at the last living days of Jesus.
Clearly, today there is a lot of folklore mixed in to the processions of the "Semana Santa" (holy week). So more and more tourists are coming to see them and the participants - mostly the porters - are even sometimes in a Bar to drink something on their breaks.
An interesting thing is that the children come with little wax balls. I asked a woman what it means: "quieren mucha cera! Mucha cera hay mucha suerte!" That means the children ask the brothers with candles for their hot wax and make balls out of it - after the week is over, they hope to have a very big wax ball - having a big wax ball means they will be lucky for the rest of the year.
At the next evening I wanted to see more, so I visited a procession in Huelva. The colors of this brotherhood changed but the cut of the clothes has always stayed the same since the Middle Ages. The headclothes are for the penancers to stay anonymus. Originally, they were in the processions as big sinners in order to lose their guilt.
I will never forget these days in Andalusia: the covered men, the candles, the music and the memory of the story of a person who wanted to bring more love into our world.
I wish you all a pieceful and beneficial EASTER.