Marbella Medley | Folio 2 – Semana Santa
Heading to Spain for Easter is often a risky business. Far from providing the wall-to-wall sunshine much promised of the tourism posters, my experience of the country at this time of the year has been that rain falls more widely than just the plain, and for more days than the tourist board would care to admit. And this Easter was no exception, with the Spanish skies tipping it down for 3 out of the 6 days I was on holiday there. Unfortunately, what this seasonal capriciousness also means in that the Semana Santa (Holy Week) parades, which are otherwise the other big certainty of a trip to Spain at Easter, will likewise be cancelled. After all, local churches cannot risk the damage which might otherwise be done to their priceless statues, many of which are centuries old, whose procession in the open air is central to the Semana Santa parades.
Happily, this year, save for the unfortunate cancellation of the big climax to Marbella’s Semana Santa festivities – the Easter Day parade – I was able to see a full set of stunning processions on each of the evenings when I was in town. With their military bands and mighty golden tronos, their multiple rows of candle-bearing conical-hooded nazareños, and collective of local dignitaries, these parades are full of all the pomp and traditional ceremony that a Spanish town or city can muster, and represent the centrepiece of a year’s religious celebrations.
As I have said on this blog many a time before, these parades are totally inspirational to me, and cannot help but move me, even though I do not share in the religious sentiment behind them. So even though this year must have been the 10th or 11th time I have seen the parades, I could not help but chase them all around town, taking photographs of each detail as I went. The parades, which largely run at night, are nevertheless notoriously difficult to photograph, and the set I am sharing today have their fair share of blurring issues. But I kind of like this, because in the blur you get a sense of the mysterious and solemn atmosphere which is created when you see the flickering candlelit tronos emerge from around a street corner, seen through the puffs of incense and candle smoke which are so characteristic of these parades.
Special mention also has to go to the military sheep who was perhaps one of the more unique aspects of one parade. Appearing to be some kind of military mascot, the sheep did a sterling job, joining in the parade for the full 4+ hours of its duration. With its tilted hat and little Spanish flag ankle cuffs, this sheep was fully dressed for the occasion and is so endearing that I have given him two photos in this collection – it’s only what he deserves.
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