Holy week : Palm Sunday, Ash Wednesday, Lent, Good Friday
On Palm Sunday, people go to mass in the morning. Children carry palm leaves to be blessed by the priest. Boys carry a simple palm branch, and the girls carry a branch that has been decorated. They often have sweets, tinsel or other decorations hanging from them.
In Christian churches, Ash Wednesday is the first day of the penitential season of Lent, so called from the ceremony of placing ashes on the foreheadas a sign of penitence. In the Roman Catholic church, ashes obtained from burned palm branches of the previous Palm Sunday are blessed before masson Ash Wednesday. The priest places the blessed ashes on the foreheadsof the officiating priests, the clergy, and the congregation, while reciting over each one the following formula: "Remember that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return".
Lent is a period of fasting and penitence traditionally observed by Christians in preparation for Easter. The length of the Lenten fast, during which observants eat sparingly, was established in the 4th century as 40 days.The 40-day period begins on Ash Wednesday and extends, with the omissionof Sundays, to the day before Easter. The Roman Catholic church has in recent years relaxed its laws on fasting and nowadays fasting and abstinenceduring Lent are obligatory only on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
Like the April fair, Semana Santa (holy week/easter) has been one of the most important celebrations in Seville since centuries.The Cofradías (Brotherhoods or Fraternities) process in penitence through the (many narrow) streets of the city, from their church to the Cathedral and back, taking the shortest possible route, as decreed in the rule of the ordinances by Cardenal Niño de Guevara in the 17th century.
2008: 16 - 23 MarchStarting on Domingo de Ramos (Palm Sunday), and ending on Domingo de Resurrección (Easter Sunday), there are 57 brotherhoods that pay the religious visist to the Cathedral of Seville, the third largest Cathedral in the world.
Processions and floats
Most brotherhoods carry two floats:
a float with a Christ, representing the distinct stages of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christand a float with a Dolorosa (Mary the Virgin in pain) under a canopy.Some brotherhoods even carry three floats, like the so-called: El Amor, La Cena, San Benito, or la Trinidad, others have just one like Santa Marta, La Quinta Angustia, la Soledad de San Buenaventura, or la Soledad de San Lorenzo.Resuming, in the eight days of Semana Santa, a total of 57 brotherhoods, carry their 116 floats from their church to the Cathedral and back, in the company of around 60,000 brothers participating in their different appearances:
The number of spectators may rise up to the impressing number of one million people during the most important moments of Semana Santa in Seville: the early morning of Good Friday which is when the brotherhoods of el Silencio, el Gran Poder, La Macarena, El Calvario, La Esperanza de Triana and los Gitanos set off for their processional penitence to the Cathedral.