Yes, it’s just started, even though in some places of Spain it’s been prepared along the whole year. In some cities, specially in the south, the streets are going to be almost collapsed during a week, and instead of normal life, we are going to find processions any time of day or night, those in which people sing, those in which people cry, those which music bands play, those in complete silence… All of them recreating the Passion of Christ.
If you’ve never seen anything like this, you can imagine it maybe like a whole-week christian “parade”, or like a dramatic version of the carnival… The atmosphere is very particular, coming up so many different feelings, drama, shock, beauty, fear, annoyance or even exasperation if you are not in the mood or have to get to the other side of the city across the processions… in any case it is a very collective feeling, and the crowd is really present everywhere…
Even if we are in a moment of hard economical crisis, people and institutions spend huge amounts of money in the organization of the processions. For example, each “dress” the nazarenos wear can cost between 250 and 3000€, depending on the kind of cofradía they belong to (cofradías are catholic groups of people that work a bit like a fun club of a saint, christ or virgin). Well, if you want to be a hermano (brother) of one of those cofradías you have to pay an annual amount of about 50-100€, and a special fee if you want to be part of the procession. It’s not just a matter of faith but also of family traditions and social position. Not affordable for all!
Thursday and friday are national holiday (schools take the whole week off) and as the weather is nice, the not-so-devoted people take it like a pre-summer holiday to have their first swim in the sea or visit the family.
Semana Santa/ Holy week / Easter is in some places culturally more relevant than Christmas or any other tradition… here’s a comic by Manel Fontdevila with an interesting and ironic reflection:
“2000 years educated like this is normal… sacrifice, tough on crime mesures, crisis… maybe we deserve all this… we dumbs!”
For those who enjoy and for those who don’t, there’s no doubt that it’s here!