This is Holy Week as many of you know and here in Spain they celebrate it all week. They began celebrating last Friday and finish on Easter Sunday. Last night we went to San Roque with some friends to partake in the festivities. It is not a "party", more of a religious experience. The lead in teh procession was a group of mounted Roman soldiers. Then the majority of the people are dressed in their capes and robes and wear a pointy hood. Yes, very much like the KKK, but I do believe that the Spanish have been doing this MUCH longer than the KKK have been around and it is a religous tradition not a racist costume. The different groups wear different colored robed and have a shrine (for lack of a better word) that they are responsible for. All of the shrines were carried by either all men or all women and they were made of either solid wood or silver and would sway back and forth as the bearers walked in a cadence to a marching band that followed each and every shrine (there were probably 14 shrines in total). The shrines to Mary, and there a lot of them, were mostly silver and carried by women. The shrines to Jesus were mainly made of wood, and were carried by men. There was anywhere from 32 to 70 people carrying the shrines. They would stop often to take a break from carrying the shrines as they were very heavy and had to be carried up and down hills. I was not envious of these men and women. Some of the men and women were barefoot and we saw two two men that were blindfolded. I do not know if this was a personnal way to show pennance for your sins, or if someone in the church decided the penence for everyone or possibly it was some sort of rite of initiation into the particular botherhood or guild; I do not know. There was one or two people that would walk with the shrine and keep an eye on the ones carrying the shrine to watch for anyone getting weak. When they saw someone waving for a break or if they thought it was time to take a break they would ring a bell. There was a bell on each of the shrines and the first ring meant stop and the second meant put it down. When it was time to get going again, they ring the bell once for all of the people to get back in place, twice to pick it up and the third time was to start moving. We did not make it to the end, we got there at 5:40PM and the kids along with us were ready to go by 9:30. We saw most of the procession, but with Emily asleep, my back hurting, and Nathan asking every 5 minutes if we could go, we thought it was probably time to go. On the way to the we passed the first shrine we saw leave the Church and it was still several hundred yards away from completing the round trip through the strees of San Roque back to the starting point; so they'd been walking up and down teh narrow streets for well over 4 hours (and we thought we were tired from justing standing that long and watching them pass by !!)It was neat to see all of the people dressed up and all of the people required to carry around some of the shrines. Truly and experience.
Squadron of Roman Soldiers on horseback
Our Father Praying in the Garden of Gethsemane
The Most Blessed Mary of Extreme Sorrow
Nathan and Emily get ready for the Procession to startEmily watches the shrines go by Daddy and Kayla take it all in The drums were VERY loud, this is how Kayla was most of the procession