Religious Events

The Holy Week

Besides its numerous festivals, Spain is renowned for its distinctive way of celebrating important Christian holidays, such as Easter, and participation can be an enthralling cultural experience, even for the non-religious.

La Semana Santa, or The Holy Week, represents the week before Easter, and is the most important religious event of the year, differing in terms of local customs from one area to another. Its most renowned regional celebration is held in Seville and attended by a significant number of tourists yearly; intense preparation is necessary, especially for the long procession of painstakingly crafted sculptural representations of religious scenes.

Jesus carrying the cross during a procession of Holy Week in Spain

Processions of religious brotherhoods are also interesting to witness, although deemed eerie by some, due to their specific hooded robes, symbolising penitence.

Other notable religious events include All Saints Day, known as Dia de Todos los Santos, a commemoration of the departed, held every 1st of November. Offerings are made and flowers placed on graves, cemeteries temporarily becoming the focus of every community.

A Catholic country for many centuries, Spain shares its joyful religious celebrations with the rest of the Christian world, although cultural differences do occur.

Christmas is celebrated on the 25th of December, yet with an emphasis on Christmas Eve rather than Christmas Day itself, and in contrast with the tradition in most countries observing this holiday, gifts are not exchanged until the 6th of January, when the Epiphany is celebrated, referred to as Dia de los Reyes Magos. This holiday, unique to Spain within European borders, has been instituted in Latin American countries as well.

In fact, a religious significance is attributed to many Spanish fiestas, which are often held in honour of local saints, yet the secular, carefree festive character overrode it over the years. You will find many ritualistic, sometimes bizarre aspects integrated into such festivities, evocating their spiritual origins.

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