22 March 2016
Sunny with light breeze
Took dog to pension for 11 am and he was delighted and almost sprang over wall to see the lady and her foule de chiens. Back home, quick battle with the gate lock and then we were off into the bright morning.
Our first overnight was in Valladolid, pronounced Baya dolid, it is North West Spain's largest city with over 300 000 people and here is a little map, to orientate yourselves
By Al Silonov - author attribution
We stayed at the Hotel Mozart which is right in the heart of the old city and gives OH the chance to charge about and 'discover' interesting areas - read this as drink beer on his own in a variety of bars - and me a chance to charge around the shops without OH saying 'what do you need that for?'. Piled into the hotel and arranged our stuff then out for lunch. Mixed green salad topped with glistening asparagus, rich and glossy tuna and velvety green olives. Followed by small deep fried fish and finished with flan - a type of crème caramel. Tiny cup of evilly bitter coffee. And siesta.
Suitably refreshed, OH went on his mission of discovery and I went out later and found one of my favorite shops in Spain - Tiger - full of unnecessary plastic items which you never realised that you absolutely had to have, until that it, you are standing in a Tiger shop.
|Fab handbag shop|
Met up with OH again on the Plaza Mayor and found one of the first Easter Week gatherings at the main church. Semana Santa or Holy Week is one which has very special celebrations throughout Spain, but the best places to watch the processions and gatherings is either Vallodalid in the North or in Seville or Malaga in Andalucia
Spain is known especially for its Holy Week traditions or Semana Santa. The celebration of Holy Week regarding popular piety relies almost exclusively on the processions of the brotherhoods or fraternities. These associations have their origins in the Middle Age, but a number of them were created during the Baroque Period, inspired by the Counterreformation and also during the 20th and 21st centuries. The membership is usually open to any Catholic person and family tradition is an important element to become a member or "brother" (hermano).
Some major differences between Spanish regions are noticeable in this event: Holy Week sees its most glamorous celebrations in the region of Andalusia, particularly in Málaga and Seville, while those of Castile and León see the more sombre and solemn processions, typified by Semana Santa at Zamoraand Valladolid. This is a religious holiday.
A common feature in Spain is the almost general usage of the nazareno or penitential robe for some of the participants in the processions. This garment consists in a tunic, a hood with conical tip (capirote) used to conceal the face of the wearer, and sometimes a cloak. The exact colors and forms of these robes depend on the particular procession. The robes were widely used in the medieval period for penitents, who could demonstrate their penance while still masking their identity. These nazarenos carry processional candles or rough-hewn wooden crosses, may walk the city streets barefoot, and, in some places may carry shackles and chains on their feet as penance. In some areas, sections of the participants wear dress freely inspired by the uniforms of the Roman Legion.
The other common feature is that every brotherhood carries magnificent "Pasos" or floats with sculptures that depict different scenes from the gospels related to the Passion of Christ or the Sorrows of Virgin Mary. Many of these floats are art pieces created by Spanish artists such as Gregorio Fernandez,Juan de Mesa, Martínez Montañés or Mariano Benlliure. Brotherhoods have owned and preserved these "pasos" for centuries in some cases. Usually, the "pasos" are accompanied by Marching bands performing "Marchas procesionales" a specific type of compositions, devoted to the images and fraternities.
The wearing of the peaked tall hood gives the processors a sinister air and, in the glow of the tall candles and reflections of the old stone buildings, you are easily taken to previous times and can imagine the terror and cruelty meted out by these masked penitents. Religious courts, the Inquisition and auto da fés. Spanish people may wear modern clothing and appear as contemporary Europeans but in the heart of their communities and their essential beings, this deep attachment to the past beats strongly. Images of death and suffering, weeping virgins, bleeding crucificitions, devils, fire. Black and red and gold.