23 April 2006

Easter past

I went to one of the Easter Procesiones. Parade is too strong a word. Each church has "imagenes" - yes that's images. The penitents carry the images on great gold platforms through the streets. Some of them wear no shoes, others have on slippers. The platforms sometimes weigh in the tons. The penitents walk maybe 200 yards, then rest. Other people who are also pentitents wear pointy hats with faces covered and proceed before and behind the imagenes with candles (yes, think KKK type get ups). A couple of church "bands" go along with each imagene and play a tune. The one I saw was mournful music for Jesus. Slightly more upbeat for the procesion of Mary.

The 7pm procesion didn't actually arrive in the Plaza Mayor until 10pm. Me and a few thousand of my closest Spanish friends had been lined up creating an aisle through the plaza since 8:30. My legs hurt from standing still so long. A sudden vacuum occured around 9 or 9:30 creating an open space in front of me. Suddenly all these thousands of people rushed forward to reposition to the new aisle. It was a scary moment.

Other than that moment it was an orderly crowd in general. Lots of families. One woman waiting by herself was very nice and answered my questions. She decided I should have her spot so I could see better because she had seen the imagenes before, so she shoe horned me into a nonexistent space between her ample tummy and the man in front of her. You can see from the photos I didn't have a great view.

Four older ladies settled in behind me and narrated the event for me. They were very impressed with the decoration on the, for lack of a better word, floats. The Mary float did a little dance. It was much lighter so the guys carrying it could move backwards and forwards to the music. There was a delighted ahhh from the crowd. Applause errupted for those carrying the imagene or the imagene itself when it arrived in front of people. It was a reverent or maybe awe struck moment which I found a little freaky. An odd plaster Jesus manikan and a ornate pile of gold, candles and flowers. Just stuff and symbols, not the substance of relationship. Very interesting.

my view of the pointy hats

Jesus enters to a gasp from the crowd. The odd thing about people carrying the float on their shoulder is that it looks as if the statue is walking at a distance.

If you look close you can see the faces of the pentitents carrying the float.

That's a lot of gold and silver.

That's the back of Jesus and he had long hair. (Plaza Mayor)

Mary & pointy hat penitents

Saturday I ran across a float being removed from a CITY building. It was funny watching the guy holding onto the imagene in a tight embrace to keep it from falling. Though it was covered with a cloth so it wasn't irreverent, I suppose.


  1. That would be an experience you wouldn't soon forget. I often wonder how many rituals originated. It sounds like this one has a lot of reverence involved, but as you said, it isn't something that implies a relationship with Christ.

  2. That is cool that you are taking part in this type of culture. What a neat event.

  3. that would have been a neat and awesome experience. :)

  4. Wow. They really go all out on those "floats". Interesting.