Manomet, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA

Manomet, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA
Manomet, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Semana Santa - Part 3 - Kids and Wax, Centro, Seville, Andalusia, Spain

Many youngsters spend their time racing about collecting wax drippings from the penitent's candles. This boy was quite proud of his wax ball.....

......and this nun was impressed with his accomplishment, too.

The little girl with the basket is either collecting candy and/or special religious cards, or, she is giving them out to people. I wan't sure which.

Another little boy with a basket of goodies.

But the other kids definitely want what is in his basket.

Sometimes, like in any procession or parade with thousands of people, there is a lot of standing around waiting for the group to move on ahead.  And their long day has only just begun.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Semana Santa - Part 2 - Cathedral Procession, Centro, Seville, Andalusia, Spain

Same angle of view as yesterday's post, but a different sky. Looking north along the reviewing stands in Plaza de San Francisco, the big question is, will that building storm disrupt the processions today.

At least one procession was cancelled on the previous day due to rain and thunderstorms. Imagine the disappointment for the participants - spending the entire last year preparing and anticipating this event only to have it canceled. And spectators come from around the world to observe the celebrations, swelling the city hotels, restaurants and shops for the week-long event.

Adjacent to the procession route, many bars/restaurants are doing a booming business midday before the first brotherhood passes by.

This group is heading into the Cathedral of Seville before continuing on the main route.

You may have noticed that the penitents (Nazarenos) frequently have their hands near their chins.  It seems the hoods are top-heavy and must be pulled downward to keep the eye-holes properly aligned for sight.

They carry the big, heavy candles even in the daytime in preparation for lighting at dusk.

It is common for penitents to walk bare-foot or in stockings.  It is also common for parents or other family members to drift in and out of the procession providing snacks and drinks to keep the walkers healthy.

Somehow, there is always just enough room for the entire entourage to pass through the crowd.

The two men on the left are holding long poles to keep the many candles lit on the paso (float).

Each paso has men at the corners providing verbal and audible commands to the costaleros underneath who carry the float. Since the carriers cannot see, they must rely on the eyes of the corner guards.

Immediately behind a paso, there are usually scores of believers walking in faith and solidarity.

Some groups (brotherhoods) have multiple bands, and pasos, and as many as 2800 penitents walking in the procession.  It takes almost two hours for some to completely pass by a given point and the entire route may last from 8-12 hours, some beginning late afternoon and marching into the following morning wee hours.

On Good Friday, the processions begin after midnight and last throughout the night into the daylight hours.

A family member, supporter, or one of the faithful marches beside. I noticed that those who carry crosses do not have the pointy part of the hat in place.

Each brotherhood has its own hood, cassock, accessory and candle color to distinguish it.

They see a lot of cameras pointed at them in this day and age of smartphones and amateur photographers.

By my count, there are close to 60,000 penitents who participate in the processions, add in the musicians, teams of costaleros, and other support personnel and you can start to understand the scope and scale of this event.

After a week of seeing this celebration, it has become normal to see folks in robes and pointy hoods. It is a great reset in my psyche to replace the symbolism with something of faith and peace and love.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Semana Santa - Part 1 - Introduction, Centro, Seville, Andalusia, Spain

"Holy Week in Seville is known as Semana Santa de Sevilla. It is celebrated in the week leading up to Easter (Holy Week among Christians), and features the procession of pasos, which are floats of lifelike wooden sculptures of individual scenes of the events of the Passion, or images of the grieving Virgin Mary." Source: Wikipedia.

Approximately 60 different church brotherhoods participate over the eight day period with as many as ten processions on a given day. All are timed to begin in their respective parish neighborhood and process through the city streets along a predetermined path to arrive in the vicinity of the Cathedral of Seville at a planned time.

Although many folks simply stand and watch along the route, certain areas are prime viewing and have seats and special boxes for the events. The image above shows the Plaza de San Francisco, adjacent to the City Hall building at left, after the crews have painstakingly constructed the reviewing stands with individual boxes, chairs, and fabric drapes for those who enjoy that access.

Each procession has religious persons, most have music, a paso (a float which is carried on the shoulders of 20-50 men called costaleros hidden underneath), and are accompanied by hundreds or thousands of penitents (called Nazarenos and they wear the tradtional tall pointy hats). There are approximately 100 pasos over the week-long event and almost 60,000 penitents.

I have seen many spectacles of various kinds in my life but, this is in a class by itself. The scale, scope, participation, passion, reverence, and devotion is palpable.

In an impressive display of execution and pre-planning, all the signs, barricades, chairs, and stands appear in a well-rehearsed and choreographed exercise that the Sevillianos have performed once a year for their entire lives.

The police presence is increased to help with street control but, it never seemed over-bearing.  People here know how to behave.  After all, this is a profound religious celebration that has earned a certain level of decorum and the citizens have practiced and lived this throughout their entire lives.

An hour or so before the posted start time, I began to see random penitents walking through the streets to their respective start points.  At first, it is a jarring sight to someone from the United States. Pointy hats and hoods are not associated with peace, love, and religion.  This tradition here, however, has been in place for many hundreds of years, long before a certain evil organization in the United States co-opted a similar style of uniform.

People of all ages participate in the processions. They are often seen with hands at their necks to keep the eyeholes aligned.

On the first day of the eight day event, I walked to a nearby neighborhood starting point. The crowd is milling about along this narrow street waiting for the procession to begin.  Once the participants approach, the crowd will have to be behind the yellow lines to allow for the passage of the procession.

And suddenly, here they are.

Many have full brass and drum bands accompanying.

Like the penitents, the musicians span a wide age range.

Most of these processions last about 12 hours so this is quite an endurance challenge for the participants.

The long candles they each carry will be used for the evening portions of the procession. In fact, the dripped wax on the streets causes screechy sounds for weeks afterwards as rubber tires (or shoe soles) come in contact.

It is a tight fit on the narrow streets.  If you have to get somewhere, it isn't going to happen until the procession ends. There is NO movement along the sidewalk since it is shoulder to shoulder and elbow to elbow packed with people.

It was common to see parents or other relatives intermixed within the procession attending to the snack or water needs of the participants.

The paso is guided by men stationed at the corners communicating to the costaleros hidden underneath behind the perimeter drapes.

When these brass bands start playing at full volume in the narrow streets, the effect is loud and thrilling.

Sunset and blue hour approaches.

Time to light the candles.

Note:  For purposes of this narrative, I have mixed images from different processions. In reality, each brotherhood's procession is characterized by a specific combination of cassock colors, hood color, and associated markings.