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El Capuchino 2015

April 5, 2015

El Capuchino – the person wearing the hood or cap. 2015-04-02 21.07.51

It is Semana Santa this week – culminating today with Pascua or Easter. Here in Alicante there have been numerous processions (not called parades) each day/evening celebrating Easter Week.  The penitents/sinners (aren’t we all) follow a route from individual churches to the local cathedral, along with another group who carry the paso – a type of float – on their shoulders.  These depict religious scenes. The ones I saw had the Virgin and Jesus on the cross. There are also bands, children dressed in the costume of the brotherhood but without the hood as they are not penitents, and often women in black wearing mantillas. It is very solemn and quiet except for the bands playing somber music.

The people carrying these pasos/floats on their shoulders must practice for weeks ahead of time. The pasos can weigh up to 7000 pounds. They do rest during the procession which runs from 8pm to 2am more or less. They have to be lined up according to height and they don’t just walk down the street, they dance.  They go forward for a while, then sideways, then backwards, then forward again. From the distance this gives the float/paso an appearance of swaying down the street.  When it is time to rest, there is a signal and big poles are placed underneath the paso/float to hold it so that the people can take a short break.  They are all wearing the same costume, depending on the brotherhood/group to which they belong.

The robes are known as a nazareno, which the penitents wore and the pointed caps are capirote. They cover the face of the sinner. The people participating are showing their piety.  Perhaps not so much these days but ,they are showing respect for family (many belong to the same brotherhood/confradias for generations) and tradition. The processions usually start with a huge wooden cross, and the participants often carry candles.  Some of them give caramelos (candy) to the children along the route.

It is very moving to see and the streets are lined several rows deep with onlookers. They often applaud as the float goes by as it is such a challenging feat for the participants. The country is on holiday Thursday afternoon, all day Friday and Sunday. Practically every store, no matter the size is closed and people are with their families – often out-of-town. The tradition is to not eat meat on Friday and there is a bread/cake treat called a mona that is traditionally eaten. It is baked with a hard-boiled egg in the center. When eaten, each person has their own and they try to crack the egg on someone’s head when they are not looking. Lots of fun for the children! Easter and spring in Alicante.

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From → Spain

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