We’re in the middle of Semana Santa in Seville, and big chunks of the city’s public spaces and roads have been cut, reconfigured, occupied by thousands and thousands of chairs and fences; balconies, the spot of choice to watch the passing cofradías carried by the costaleros (yes, the scary hooded guys), were draped in red and paper olive tree branches in expectation. The city tram got partly dismantled (yes, yes), and convenience booths were installed by the municipality to smooth the week-long event: from lactation rooms, to stroller cloakrooms, to public toilets and changing rooms for the nazarenos that follow the cofradías… you name it.
Sevillanos take this event very seriously. I was returning from a night out with my hubby the other day and there I bump into my nice typical Sevillana neighbor with her 2-year-old daughter dressed like a 1940s doll. The poor little girl had an embarrassing incident while waiting for the procession to pass, at 11:00pm, in the cold, under the rain, with no protection but a mini light wool jacket and thighs. The mother assured me that it never happened to her girl before, and was genuinely surprised. Just the thought of my 2-year-old boy cuddled in his warm bed since 8:00pm made me smile: Sevillanos are indeed dead serious about their Hermandad (fraternity), and during the week-long competition between their respective Vírgines, they just subdue every other part of their life to the event.
With time, the religious Semana Santa has become more of a social event, where Sevillanos compete, socialize, show their social status and… have fun among themselves. As with most other major events here like the Feria de Abril, it is primarily meant for the locals, and the occasional tourists are just ignored. The Semana Santa is for socializing what the Feria is for business.
On the other hand, one can’t help but admire the resilience of the Sevillanos in this time of financial crisis: they certainly do know how to keep that smile and good spirit going during tough times! The city and people have this soothing effect on you, whether you’re living here or just visiting.
So my advice to you is: just let go and enjoy your time in this wonderful city, and let the contagious allegría carry you way beyond this week!