Nazarenes – do they scare you?

A familiar sight during Semana Santa

What is your reaction to the picture above?  If you are Spanish, you are likely to react in a different way to somebody who is British, for example, as for many of us it brings back memories of the Ku Klux Klan. 

Semana Santa (Holy Week) is celebrated throughout Spain.  Here in Jumilla Semana Santa, which is the oldest one in the region of Murcia, actually lasts for more than a week and is one of the highlights of the year.  Make a note in your diaries to visit Jumilla next Easter as it will be their 600th Semana Santa, so it is sure to be even bigger, louder and more colourful than usual! 

For me the scariest moment was during last year´s Semana Santa, when I went to watch the Procesion del Silencio.  This takes place late at night, and all the street lights in the old town are switched off.  I saw the black, hooded figures approaching me,  I heard the clanking of chains, and I had to resist the temptation to rush back home.  It was an eerie feeling as the silent procession passed by, with people near me watching it in silence too.

Procesion del Silencio

This was our second Semana Santa and I must admit that this year we were a lot more comfortable with the hooded figures taking part in the Semana Santa celebrations.  After all we now know many of the participants, and we also understand that this is a purely religious tradition.  The Nazarenes, or penitents, belong to several different cofradías or brotherhoods and the Semana Santa celebrations are spread out over ten days, from the Friday before Palm Sunday until Easter Sunday.

Procession on Palm Sunday

As well as colourful parades and magnificent floats Semana Santa in Jumilla, not surprisingly, includes lots of music plus a Minifería del vino, which this year unfortunately coincided with friends´wedding celebrations back in the UK.  Sometimes we have to make sacrifices in life!  If we had been staying in Jumilla that weekend, we would have had the chance to sample wine from seventeen bodegas – oh well, there is always next year, which hopefully will be bigger and even better!


I suspect that one reason why Spanish children don´t seem to be scared by the hooded figures is because the Nazarenes hand out loads of sweets to them!  The highlight for many children is the main Caramelada on Domingo de Resurrección (Easter Sunday), where the local children scramble for the sweets that are thrown on the street, rather than over indulging themselves with chocolate Easter eggs.  However this year we spotted Easter eggs in our local Aldi, so we suspect that some children had the best of both worlds!

Eager children grabbing lots of sweets

Other activities included two Semana Santa concerts, exhibitions of photography, oil paintings and mantillas, plus the Tamboradas, one of which continued throughout the night in the parking area outside the covered market.  Friends of ours who live near there decided, not surprisingly, to visit us for the night rather than try to sleep with drums being banged enthusiastically outside their apartment!

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