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What is a Semana Santa Procession

The actual schedule of processions is in the menu of Semana Santa

A procession is a traditional Catholic way to tell the story of Christ on the streets, for all people to see.

A Semana Santa procession in Valencia is not a formless mob of followers. It is a precisely structured piece, full of rules and symbolism.

All processions are different in content, depending on their purpose. There is no single rule that applies always, but there are some general elements:

Processions of Semana Santa (Holy Week) in Valencia, Spain

Every procession is opened by a formation containing the standard (flag) of the Brotherhood. There can be several standards in a procession. If several Brotherhoods form the procession, it is divided into segments.


Processions of Semana Santa (Holy Week) in Valencia, Spain

Then uniformed members of the Brotherhood will form the shell of the procession - they will usually be at all edges. The hats are worn as a sign of mourning, only when it is appropriate to grieve for the suffering of Christ.

Processions of Semana Santa (Holy Week) in Valencia, Spain



Some processions will have biblical characters in the middle, usually carrying symbols.

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Processions of Semana Santa (Holy Week) in Valencia, Spain
The heart of the procession, the very core is the imagen - a sacred sculpture of a Biblical scene, elevated on a high stand, to which the Brotherhood is dedicated. The imagen also gives the meaning to the procession, it can act as the main actor of the stage. For example the Encounter of Mouther and Son Resurrected on Easter Sunday is a ritual of two imagenes brought close together - one of Mary and one of Jesus.


Processions of Semana Santa (Holy Week) in Valencia, SpainThere is always a musical band in a procession, usually percussion and wind. It can range anywhere from a single solemn drum in the Procession of Silence to something like the photo on the left.

Children are usually included in the processions too, often having their own little part of space.

Some processions invite any willing followers to tail at the back with torches and/or candles.



What kind of processions are there

There are various kinds of Semana Santa processions, each having their own meaning, purpose and rules:

Retreta
This procession announces the coming festivities on the first day of the celebrations.

Palm processions
Occur on Palm Sunday (1 week before the Easter Sunday) and commemorate Jesus' entry into Jerusalem. They are jubilant, happy processions with lots of palm leaves, images of Jesus on the donkey. The members of Brotherhoods don't wear hats.

Translado
A general religious procession. These processions move the sacred imagenes from museum/church to the home of the Brotherhood, as a preparation for Easter processions. They usually happen over the few days before Good Friday. After the Easter there are "reverse" translados.

Processions of Silence
These take place the night before Good Friday to mourn for the capture of Christ in the gardens of Gethsemany. They are silent, tragic processions late at night, the faces are covered and the only music is a solemn drum.

Via Crucis
On the morning of Good Friday many processions will walk in the footsteps of Christ to Golgotha carrying imagenes of His Passion, commemorating His whole path with 14 stations.

Procession of Glory / Encounter with Mother
These take place on Sunday of Resurrection, celebrating the Easter Sunday. They are jubilant processions with no faces covered, usually carrying imagenes of Jesus and Mary, and including an encounter of those imagenes.

General Processions / Collective Acts
They are the most spectacular processions of the Semana Santa as they involve all of the Brotherhoods together, in full colours. These are the highlight of the Semana Santa. There are 3 general processions: Act of Prophecy, The Procession of the Holy Burial and the Parade of Resurrection - on Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday respectively.

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