Semana Santa (or Holy Week) is the Spanish name for Easter, which dates back to the 16th century when the Catholic Church
decided to present the story of the Passion of Christ in a way that the layperson could understand.

From that point on, scenes from the story of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ were told through a series of processions through
the streets each year.
Today, Semana Santa is still celebrated in all the pomp and circumstance of 16th century Spanish Catholicism in cities
across Spain.
Andulasian cities like Seville and Malaga particularly shine in this regard, but some Spaniards argue that "true Semana
Santa" takes place in the region of Castilla-Leon in cities like Zamora, Valladolid, Salamanca, Avila, and Segovia.

Common Features of Semana Santa Celebrations
Andalusian Semana starts on the Sunday before Easter and lasts until Easter Sunday itself, while in Castilla-Leon events run
from that Friday, making for ten days of celebration in total. In Toledo, Semana Santa celebrations are even longer,
starting on the Thursday two weeks before Semana Santa itself.

Though the style and mood of Semana Santa in Spain vary from city to city, the basic components remain the same. Each day
there are a number of processions, one from each brotherhood in the city, made up of floats which are carried from their
church to the town's central cathedral and back again.
Most brotherhoods carry two floats, one with Christ and one with his mourning mother, Mary the Virgin.

Each procession is different and each has its own particular followers, either due to the location of the church or the
exact nature of the procession. The presence of or type of music, the time of day, and the size of the church all factor
into the crowds that follow these displays.

The floats are heavy, especially so in Andalusia, which is the most extravagant region for Semana Santa. Strong men carry
the floats, but with the procession lasting many hours, even they will feel the pain. The suffering experienced is likened
to that experienced by Christ and the men (known as costaleros) consider it a great honor to carry the float, despite
(and indeed, because of) the pain involved.

In Andalusia, specifically Seville, you can also expect to witness several saetas during Semana Santa. These performances of
flamenco song are sung from one of the balconies in the narrow streets of the city. Although they were once spontaneous
outbursts of worshippers overcome with emotion, they are invariably preplanned these days, and the entire procession stops
to listen until the song is finished.

Semana Santa is an outdoor event, so rain is bad news, and with many of the floats being very old and easily damaged,
processions are called off with even the slightest drop of rain. If rain is forecast, stay away, there'll be nothing to see,
so be sure to check the weather in Spain in March and April before you go out for the day.

Itinerary of Events for Most Semana Santa Celebrations
Although the time of Semana Santa processions varies, most cities across Spain carry on similar traditions, and while cities
like Toledo may offer fewer processions than Seville, they offer other events and celebrations throughout the holiday all
the same.

No matter where you celebrate, though, the events on Thursday evening before Easter never really stop, with processions from
Thursday night (the early hours of Friday morning) going until Friday evening. Unless you have an excellent capacity to
drink large quantities of coffee, you'll have to miss some of it to get a little beauty sleep. The events of Thursday night
into Friday morning are the most important, so plan your sleep around this fact.

The mass of Easter Sunday, the last day of Semana Santa, is also important. The hoods that have been worn throughout the week
to signify mourning at the death of Jesus Christ, are taken off to celebrate the resurrection.

Although these are just a few of the major events of Semana Santa, the full itinerary also contains special services at the
cities' central cathedrals, performances and special professionals, and a variety of local traditions that vary by city and
brotherhood.

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