The Easter week, or The Holy Week as it is called in Spanish, is the largest and most celebrated religious event in all of Spain and is surrounded by many and very old traditions.
When it comes to the religious origins of the Easter celebrations, it is the same throughout the entire Christian world, the celebration commemorating the suffering and death of Christ on the cross and his resurrection. But the scope and performance of the Easter celebrations vary greatly between northern Europe and Spain. There are no Easter chicks, twigs with feathers or painted eggs, these traditions are based on a completely different tradition.
However hundreds of Easter processions are being arranged around the country, the largest and most spectacular ones can be seen in Andalusia, especially in Seville and Málaga.
Easter begins with Palm Sunday “Domingo de Ramos” and ends in almost all of Spain with Easter Sunday “Domingo de Pascua”. Easter Monady is celebrated only in a few provinces, in the rest of Spain it is a normal weekday.
The Easter processions are perhaps the most important and certainly the most “official” during the Easter week. In most cities, you can see the various processions that slowly are working their way through the crowd almost every day and especially in the evenings (and sometimes even at night). They are followed by orchestras and Los Nazarenos, penitents wearing long hoods covering their faces. The municipalities usually have programs for the processions that you can pick up at the tourist offices telling when and where the processions are taking place.
The tradition of fraternities and carrying thrones in processions appeared in Spain by the Catholic reconquest of Spain in 1492 after 800 years of Muslim rule. In addition, the Catholic Church took distance from the Protestant opposition to pictures and religious festivals.
In Malaga there are 42 different fraternities, many of them with more than 2,000 members of both sexes. They carry around 87 different thrones. The greatest of them is the “Santíima María de la Esperanza”, which weighs 6.5 tonnes and is carried by 259 carriers – it is said to be the world’s largest throne.
Easter week in Spain is far from calm. This is a folk festival, and a rather loud such. Although the style and mood varies from city to city, the basic elements are the same. It should be noted that if it is raining the processions are cancelled. The thrones are old and sensitive to water, so they don’t risk ruining them.
- Maundy Thursday “Jueves Santo” is a public holiday throughout Spain except in Catalonia.
- Good Friday “Viernes Santo” is a public holiday in the country.
- Easter Sunday “Domingo de Pascua, Domingo de Resurreccion” is also a public holiday
- Easter Monday “Lunes de Pascua ‘is a public holiday in some provinces, Catalonia, Cantabria, Valencia, the Balearic Islands, Navarra, Basque Country, La Rioja and a few cities, mainly in Asturias. In the rest of the country it is an ordinary weekday.
A holiday in Spain does not mean that all the shops are closed. Spain has regulations for opening hours, but the stores have the right to stay open on a number of holidays and many shops choose to stay open during the Easter week. Besides the regulations are suspended in municipalities with a tourist resort status. This applies both at Easter and summer (until September 15th). But you should expect that many shops will be closed especially on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Also note that on certain days and hours there can be a very high traffic load on the country’s roads. You may read more about it here: Easter traffic in Spain.
All pictures are taken in the center of Malaga and they are clickable, as usual. All photos: Erixon Consulting.