Holy Week in Seville: a year of old and new traditions

It’s no secret that Holy Week this year has been very different due to covid. For the second year in a row, the processions in Seville have been cancelled and normal celebrations put on hold. Still, the sun came out and everyone was really looking forward to getting out and about again with slight lifts in restrictions and a later curfew coming into effect over the Easter weekend.

So what has Holy Week in Seville been like this year?

Well, if you love Semana Santa, you probably spent quite a lot of time queuing outside churches for your turn to visit the images dressed in all their glory. 

Just because the processions didn’t take place this year, it didn’t mean you had to miss out on seeing some of the traditional images. Churches were open on most days and people who love Holy Week, whether for religious or cultural reasons, took the time to tour the city, going from one to another, as they’d usually do. Except instead of waiting for the images to come to them down a narrow street, they went to find them in the building.

Not great quality, but hopefully it gives you an idea.

This was the end of the queue on Resurrection Sunday, outside Santa Marina church, at gone 3pm. Earlier in the morning the line went all the way down the street and zig-zagged outside the door, much like a line for a ride at a theme park, the access to a concert or any big event, you get the idea. If you really want to see something, it’s worth the wait.

Over Holy Week, as you walked around and looked up, balconies throughout the city centre were adorned with palm branches or draped in colour, like these.

On Thursday you may have seen women in black with their traditional mantillas. Worn to symbolise mourning and remembrance of the death of Jesus Christ, this year people were encouraged to keep up the tradition, since this could be done easily while maintaining covid regulations. Here are a few photos from Instagram, since I didn’t manage to take any of my own.

If you are less inclined towards the Semana Santa traditions, perhaps you just took the time to wonder around the city in the sunshine. Traces of Holy Week are everywhere, though, and window displays, such as the one at this estate agency, were also keeping up with the ocassion.

Traditional ‘nazareno’ robe in an estate agency window.

Since I work in marketing, I couldn’t help but notice the briliance of this ad for Voltadol muscle pain relief. The messaging was spot on. For those who don’t read Spanish: We can’t aleviate your pain at not being able to celebrate Holy Week. For other sorts of pain: Voltadol Forte.

In Seville, Holy Week is a big thing. The pain is real.

Travel wasn’t really an option this year, but those who could headed out to the countryside and the Sierra de Sevilla. I kept seeing a fair share of photos posted from the tops of hills in the middle of nowhere, although all were withing the province of Seville, to keep within current covid mobility regulations.

And, finally, I can’t talk about Semana Santa without mentioning food. Torrijas are the traditional sweet treat you should definitely be having over Easter. It’s a bit like French Toast with a Spanish twist. Here’s a recipe, in case you’re interested.

What does Holy Week or Easter celebrations look like where you are?

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