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Semana Santa in Cartagena 2018
We have just experienced our 2nd Semana Santa (Faith and Passion Week) here in Cartagena. Semana Santa means Easter in Spanish. It’s one of the biggest Easter events in Spain and designated as being of International interest. The processions in Cartagena are unique and do not closely resemble others in Spain due to their strict order and military precision.
The organisational and logistical challenges involved in running these events is truly staggering. If you are interested to see the itinerary of all events in full over the 10 days, click here.
There are four ‘Brotherhoods’ (Cofradías) in Cartagena that organise and take part in the 10 day long festival.
The Marrajas (Founded early 1600’s) – wear a rich purple
The Californians (Founded 1747) – wear a vibrant red
The Socorros (Founded 1691) – can’t find the colour associated but there were groups in silver/yellow or green.
The Risen Ones (Founded 1940) – wear a glowing white
These ‘Nazarenos’ wear tall, pointy hats and matching robes with their faces completely covered, apart from their eyes. These costumes are frequently compared to those of the Ku Klux Klan but there is no connection whatsoever between the two. The ‘Nazarenos’ have been wearing them for centuries. They are also known as ‘penitentes’ (penitent ones) and although the origin of their dress has been lost in time it’s believed they are disguised as a sign of shame for the sins they have committed throughout the year.
Perhaps the most impressive element of these parades are the ‘Tronos’ (Thrones). These huge platforms feature ornate sculptures and are highly decorated with flowers, gold leaf and chandeliers. They are carried on the shoulders of over 100 men or women. Watching these enormous works of art sway down the street and manoeuvre around tight corners is truly amazing.
Just as impressive is the attention to detail in the banners, the paintings on the tronos, the robes etc. The penitent robes are stunning. Each robe has the insignia of the brotherhood embroidered on one side, the outside arm so the people watching can see the insignia (they generally parade in pairs). It looks like hand embroidery which would take hours. The attention to ensuring that they all look the same must take some organising. All will have the same shoes, socks, gloves, etc. There is usually a couple of “floating” penitents who will move up and down the rows of those parading to ensure their head wear is straight, their staffs or banners are pointing the right way and candles are lit (for night parades). I’ve created a short video from footage taken over two events. Click here to view the film.
Looking forward to seeing a third Semana Santa next year.