Semana Santa: Easter in Spain, processions, passion & pointy hats - Podcast episode 32

Semana Santa or Holy Week is the biggest religious celebration of the year in Spain. Immerse yourself in the sounds of the processions and crowded streets and find out what goes on and why it's so popular.

What's the story behind those 'pointy hats' (capirotes)?

What's the difference is between a 'trono' and a 'paso' float? And how did this Spanish religious tradition all start?


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To find out more, Karina and I head down to Málaga to watch the religious processions that include elaborate floats bearing scenes from the Passion of Christ. Although, usually solemn – this is still Spain, which means neither the strong religious beliefs nor the sombreness of the moment can hide the nation’s fervour for lively fiestas - especially in Andalucía!



Join us in the streets of Málaga as we watch two processions from two different 'cofradías' or brotherhoods, one called 'Piety' and the other 'Sepulchre' on Good Friday. As the beat of the marching drummers approach and the smell of sweet incense fills the evening air, I'll describe the sights, sounds and atmosphere of Easter in Spain. In this episode we also catch up with two Spanish friends, Jose and Félix who give us their take on the history and traditions of Semana Santa in Andalucía.



One of the most distinctive features of Málaga's Semana Santa is the presence of huge ornate floats, carried through the streets by hundreds of 'brotherhood' members. These thrones depicting scenes from the Passion are escorted by groups of penitents wearing long purple robes and women in black holding lit candles. The silence is occasionally broken by spontaneous 'saetas' typical Spanish religious music with Arabic influences, usually performed from a balcony during a procession.




Religious processions in Málaga for Semana Santa.
Religious processions in Málaga for Semana Santa.

Penitentes wearing the ´capirote´ hood
Penitentes wearing the ´capirote´ hood

A timetable of Málaga processions
A timetable of Málaga´s different processions

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