I was very impressed by the staggering lengths to which the city of Sevilla went in order to host its annual Semana Santa festivities. The preparations began more than 3 weeks prior to the start of Holy week and everything from the construction of new newsstand to stadium seating to restuccoing and restocking was all in expectaion of a massive influx of people into the center of the city throughout the week. and come they did from across Europs and South America from Morocco and the States, and believe me Sevilla was ready... the funny thing was that many sevillanos as well as most of the students actually left the city for the week to escape the crowds and enjoy a weeks vacation at the beach or in their hometowns.
The Calle Principal as it is called here actually runs about five minutes from my dorm-which would seem like a great convenience, except that people practically camp out to get a spot on the road to watch the hermandades pass by ...making it impossible to reach our dorm by any direct route. Although a bit frustrating at times, I did manage to learn about 100 other ways to get home ;)
Los Pasos were exciting- especially the ones with music!...the nazarenos (members of the hermandades themselves) are usually are stoic and silent, carrying 1.5 meter tall candles that look more like thick walking sticks.They are dressed in special outfits called an "antifaz" which is the cover worn over the head with a pointed "capriote" inside. These outfits are meant to disguise identity and to emfasize their penitence.
Then come the clergymen dressed in ornate attire remeniscent of early 19th century formalwear...then come the children who most always carry little baskets and bags filled with 'caramelos' (in spain this refers to basically any type of sweet in a little wrapper) and with estampitas (small pictures of the statues in each procession that many people collect) that they hand out to the crowd. Finally comes the paso which is a giant wooden structure featuring a scenes from Jesus' life depicted by large carved statues dressed in velvet cloaks and leather sandals. And all this atop an ancient wooden strucute which is covered also by fresh flowers, roses or violets (as in the pic below) as well as heavy candleabras which are filled with more candles and are made of gold and or silver. (needless to say these things weigh a ton!!)
Each paso is a sight to see with decorative carvings covering every inch...and some were originally built in the 15th century. And as they have been for centuries, each paso is manually carried through Sevilla upon the heads of 50+ men who stand 5 across and more than 10 deep shoulder to shoulder !
(All the crowd can hope to see of these costaleros however is perhaps a tiny glimpses of their feet as they march in perfect rhythm along with the drums of the band behind them...
Being surrounded literally with spaniards of all ages waiting sometimes more than 3 hours just to see the paso is a great albeit tiring experience...The waiting time is filled with card games talking and getting to know the people around you so that by the time the paso gets within eye distance or sometimes ear distance (the drums are quite dramatic) you are ready!