Palm Sunday in Sevilla

Apr 9 – Since we arrived in town ,we’ve been seeing lots of preparations for the Holy Week celebrations that Sevilla is famous for – Semena Santa de Sevilla.  They have been hanging red bunting, cordoning off roads, and setting out wooden chairs by the thousand.

Today, Palm Sunday, the crowds are out in their Sunday best, getting ready for tonight’s processions.  By early afternoon, we saw many children and adults in long robes and tall masks with eye holes called capriotes.  Although these are chillingly reminiscent of KKK attire in the US, we are told that this is the costume of penitents (nazarenos) who are repenting of their sins in anonymity.  

Every community wears a different color.  Here in Triana, the capriotes are blue and purple velvet.  It’s a hot day, and they must be sweltering under those hoods.  By 5 pm, the penitents, holding long candles that will be lit after dark, proceeded down the Main Street to the beat of a drum.

The streets were jam-packed.  Children stood on the sidelines and some penitents gave them candy or Saint cards. The youngest penitent:

Perhaps the oldest:

Next we could hear a brass band, and we could see our community’s float (paso) in the distance.  Each parish displays a float depicting a different part of Christ’s Passion story. The floats are kept all year in the parish church.  Our float showed Jesus, perhaps at Gethsamane, with a praying Jesus in the front and a Roman soldier in a red robe and feathered helmet, behind.  As the float approached, a thousand parents shushed a thousand children, so the float could go by in silence.

The float swayed from side to side as it moved down the street, and a closer inspection revealed that it was human powered.  This also explained the burly, sweaty guys (costaleros) in the weight belts, who walked close to the float and switched places with their peers from time to time.  We are told that the men of the parish may wait many years before getting a chance to carry the paso, and they practice together for weeks to learn to properly hoist and walk with the heavy floats.  To get to the Catedral, they also have to walk up and down curbs and steps.

Then, the brass band.  They only played one song, repeating it at each corner.

Finally, more penitents (nazarenos) carrying black crosses.

The procession continued over the Triana Bridge toward the cathedral, where it will merge with all the other floats from the other parishes later tonight.  The chairs for viewing down by the cathedral are very expensive and must be purchased months in advance.  We were happy to see our neighborhood pageant and then return home.  The streets are full of revelers and there has been lots of drinking all day.  I wonder if we’ll sleep tonight?

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