(I’m going off topic for the next couple of days. If Spain’s Holy Week celebrations aren’t something that interests you, please check back in on Monday!)

We’re nearing the end of Holy Week, and I’ve been reminiscing about Semana Santa. Having studied medieval history (which is, in many respects, the history of religion) in college, and with my affinity for Spain, and with my parents having lived there for a couple of years … I’d known about and heard stories of the various Semana Santa (Holy Week) processions for quite a long time. And even though I’m not Catholic, I really, really wanted to see the spectacle in person.

Two years ago, I finally made it to Sevilla at the right time to be able to see some of them for myself. And, of course (as it always seems to do when I’m in Sevilla), it rained. So much so, in fact, that most of the processions were cancelled. If you’ve been reading the blog for a while and remember back to the week before Easter in 2011, you’ll know that I did catch a bit of one procession that managed to go out between rainstorms on Saturday. And then I was lucky enough to see the glorious Easter Sunday procession several times … basically following it around town as it wound slowly from its home church, to the cathedral, and back again. Each of these processions, I’ve been told, typically lasts about ten hours.

None of the many stories I’d heard about Semana Santa, though, had truly prepared me for the experience: the scent of incense, the massive crowds, the eerie music, and the huge, elaborate pasos.

If you’d like to see and hear just a bit of it for yourself, here are snippets of two Good Friday processions, one from 2008 and one from 2010:

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If these embedded videos won’t play on your computer, click here and here to view them on YouTube.