The history of Holy Week


The processions of Holy Week (Easter) are eagerly awaited by the Spanish because of the atmosphere during those days. Mystery, tradition, music and a familiar mood are present. The Holy Week festivities begin on Palm Sunday and continue with various processions.   However, do you really know its history?

A procession is a religious parade in which people take a walk on foot in honour to Jesus, the Virgin and the Saints. Its origin dates’ back to Athens and Rome where this kind of cult unto the Holy Gods was celebrated. Jews also did it. One of the main characters of this festivity is the so-called “thrones” showing the scenes of the New Testament. The scenes are related with the Passion of the Christ and devoted to Jesus Christ, the Virgin, the Saints or the Apostles. They are perfectly sculptured and each of the facial gestures are perfectly captured.

First processions were practised indoors due to the fear of persecution; it was from the XV and XVI centuries when mendicant orders started to incorporate the cult to the town through dramatic performances. Furthermore, the Council of Trent (represented by the senior positions who dealt with Catholic issues) made these processions to gain importance. Why? Mainly because religious authorities realised that it helped the evangelization of  Christianity and made the people feel like taking part in it. Nowadays, in order to free them from their sins as well as to show their repentance decide to hold the processions. Some others do it because of promises made to God.

Aside from that, in Spain there are certain areas like “Andalucia” where the Holy Week is celebrated with more emphasis. In Alicante, the ones from “Orihuela” are given special importance as well.  If we had to remake any of the processions, we would say that the Good Friday one is the biggest.

In Alicante, it is highlighted a procession for the Maundy Thursday, where one of the biggest thrones of Spain is shown. It is 11,5m tall, 5,5m wide and weighs 3.000kg. We are talking about “la Pontificia, Real, Ilustre, Venerable y Salesiana Hermandad Sacramental de la Santa Cena” that represents the Lord’s Dinner. In fact, there is real food donated by the Central Market of Alicante and once the procession is finished, food is given to people in need.  Secondly, it is also a must to see one of the oldest processions of the city “la Hermandad del Santo Sepulcro” that begins at 20.30h in the “Cathedral de San Nicolás”.

We hope you liked this, and of course, you learned something else about this festivity. From we encourage you to see one of the greatest representations of the Spanish Folklore.

See you soon!