So holy Week, or should we say Semana Santa, is upon us again. Where did that year go. In Andalucia this is an event that literally transforms towns and cities. Many Trucos or processions of decorated floats with Jesus and Mary statues, groups of hood wearing Nazarenos (penitents), and brass bands, walk slowly through the streets, from their local parish church to the cathedral and back. It is a moving experience, and if you are in Andalucia during this period of time you won’t have to go far to feel like you are part of the action. In our part of town places like Marbella, and San Pedro are full of the crowds from Madrid, so be prepared for the crowds.
If you want major pageantry and rich, bejewelled Virgins, try visiting Malaga or Sevilla which take these processions not all new heights. Seville has 60 brotherhoods, some with as many as 2000 members. The biggest stars of the show are the Virgens of Macerena and Triana both of which make their grand appearance at ‘La Madrugada’, the small hours of Good Friday.
From Holy Thursday to Easter Sunday the roads in the centre of the main cities are closed off and the processions take over in the afternoons. The smell of burning candles, and the mournful trumpets that accompany the trucos or floats of images of Christ and the Virgin Mary create a serine ambience that can capture the interest of even the most casual passerby.
You don’t have to be in a big city to get the Semana Santa feeling. Many villages and towns have their own celebrations, and each province offers its own variation on the Holy Week theme, with many festivities declared to be of National Interest for Tourists.
Of course Semana Santa, like many other festivals, has it’s own special food association, especially during this week, because traditionally Catholics are not supposed to eat meat. I give something up for lent every year and this year I gave up Tea and believe me I am counting down the days!!!! The dishes served at this time of year vary to some degree depending on where you are celebrating in Andalucia. You can expect local “Menus of the Day” to feature fish and vegetables, the Andalucian Garbanzos con Bacalao (Chickpeas with Cod) as well as a totally vegetarian dish called Garbanzos with Spinach (which usually has a lot of garlic and is a wonderfully tasty way to eat spinach).
A favourite dessert during Holy Week in Andalucia is rice pudding, arroz con leche, and you can expect most local bakeries to be offering Torrijas. I have seen the ingredients for these laid out on tables in my local Mecadona. These are slices of bread dipped in egg then soaked in wine or milk, fried and sweetened with sugar and sprinkled with cinnamon. Sounds just as healthy as Churros dipped in chocolate another Spanish favourite!
Well that just leaves me to sign off with have a happy Semana Santa.