Incense filled the streets; crowds spilled into the streets; street vendors had arrived early to secure the best trading spots, offering everything from candy floss, salted lemons to roasted almonds and chocolate treats. This is one of the most
important weeks of the year for Andalucia – Semana Santa. The Easter Holy Week is so much more than just a religious festival. It is probably Andalucia’s greatest tradition. In an increasingly secular society, where State and Church become further apart, there is little evidence that this has had any effect on the importance of Semana Santa.
We were in Málaga to take in the Good Friday processions –
hundreds of “nazarenos” parade through the streets, wearing their truly
distinctive costumes with hats/masks that make many an Anglo American think if the Klu Klux Klan. The ornate “tronos” (thrones), which each year are further enhanced and decorated, feature life size icons of Christ and the Virgin Mary. Málaga puts on a pretty good show,
with some impressive processions that command huge support across the city’s neighbourhoods. But I couldn’t help notice that the streets are full of laughter and chatter instead of the silent reverence that I am told was more common a few decades ago. The youngsters carrying the candles sometimes stop to take a photo with a friend, share a joke or snack on some crisps.
This is no longer rigid formality of a society where monasteries used to visit schools on recruitment drives, like the military do in the UK now. This is a modern country that still loves its traditions.