Spring is here and Easter is just around the corner. Easter in Catalonia means celebrating light and darkness – with music, colours and big emotions. An event for all senses, between grief, tradition, spookiness and party. Easter (Semana Santa in Spanish) is the most important and oldest feast of the Christians. The Resurrection of Christ symbolizes the victory of life over death. On Good Friday, catholics and protestants remember the crucifixion of Jesus. The Easter processions take place during the night in many towns in Spain.
Dancing skeletons at midnight
The hooded figures may make you shudder when walking through the medieval streets of Girona during Easter time. Especially in Verges, in the hinterland of the Costa Brava, it can get very spooky on Maundy Thursday, at midnight. There, people come together for one of the country’s oldest processions, the Dance of Death, first documented in 1666. Every year, in the flickering light of torches, this bizarre formation walks through the streets of Verges, around midnight. Five skeletons are dancing to the rhythm of the kettledrum. People seem very interested. Afterwards, there is a big party. All night long the bars and pubs are overcrowded.
The magic of the night
Everywhere in Spain, the ritual of the penitents is like the amen in the church. Eternal damnation? Atonement without any words? Doing penance with powerful images? As a traditional celebration or today’s reality? The processions of Semana Santa definitely raise some questions. Impressive but scary, fascinating and mysterious at the same time, the magic of the processions stays undenied. Darkness and light. Medieval sceneries. A crowd full of expectation. Powerful images.
Saints as superstars
Paso (huge statues of saints on an altar, carried by people of different brotherhoods) for paso is passing us every year. The procession is headed by the Crucified, followed by the Virgin Mary. The life-sized figures are framed by a magnificent floral decoration. A floral scent mixed with incense is tickling our noses. People are filming and taking photographs. In the age of Instagram and Facebook, the whole world can watch the saints leaving the churches and taking a bath in the crowd. The digitalized saints seem like superstars. Until today, the processions of Semana Santa are an expressionist event you have to part of. Sadness and desperation together with enjoyment and happiness, emotions have never been closer. Even tough you might not believe in redemption and resurrection, now you get an idea of eternity.
Tradition and party
In Girona, the doors of the cathedral’s mighty portal open at 10 pm. Slowly, the hooded figures, organized by the corresponding colours of their brotherhoods, are walking down the stairs towards the big square in front of the cathedral. Here, the procession will start with the shouldering of the pasos. After all, Semana Santa is not a deadly serious matter of faith. The big crowd formed by curious onlookers is in a good mood. Semana Santa is also a street party. Bars and cafés are busy, people are celebrating. You need to be lucky to find a free table. It is already past midnight when we get our first glass of Cava (Spanish sparkling wine). Salud, cheers and happy Easter!