There is not a single person in Spain who, as spring approaches, who won’t start marking off the days until Semana Santa, the Holy Week before Easter (from Palm Sunday to Silent Saturday). During Semana Santa, the Stations of the Cross, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are greatly commemorated in Spain.
With the fourth wave of infection looming and the risk of infection rising again in Spain, the Semana Santa looks different than usual for many Spaniards, as it did last year. Mass travel is prohibited, municipalities are on lockdown. with the exception of the Canary Islands and the Balearics.
Like last year, there will be no processions on the streets due to corona. Normally, these attact huge crowds from home and abroad. Unlike last year, this year´s suspension of worship services and processions came early enough to take appropriate action,
Celebrations via social media and TV
The Episcopal Conference of Spain announced early on that “the pandemic of the coronavirus means that Spain will have a limited experience of Semana Santa this year, but that Pope Francis, the bishops and priests will bring the liturgical celebrations to the people, via social networks and television”. For this, Radio Cope and the TV station, TRECE have put together a special programme.
Most important celebrations of the liturgical year
Nevertheless, the Archdiocese of Seville says that while images help, they can never replace physical attendance. The services of the Easter Triduum, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday, are the most important celebration of the liturgical year for Christians and are organised in an appropriate way. The fraternities are encouraged to participae in the Easter Triduum together with their parishes.
Procession and the wagons
All Catholic churches have their own fraternity and each fraternity organises its own processions. Since these cannot take place this year, the floats – on which the image of Jesus or Mary is carried – are parked in a church. The queues are long and people do not always keep enough distance. It requires “common sense” and maturity from the faithful. Te Archidiocese in Seville spoke of a `test case to see to what extent the national faith is able to adapt to harsh conditions´.
The most important thing is that everyone can experience Semana Santa in the best and most intimate way possible. It is expected that next year, after the vaccinations, Spain will be able to turn out grand again. However, certain precautions will be taken and de-escalation will be gradual.
Maundy Thursday, unlike Good Friday, is not a public holiday in Spain. The autonomous communities have the right to replace this bank holiday with a region-specific one. This is the case in Catalonia and the Valencia region. Easter Monday is a public holiday there, as it is in the Balearic Islands, La Rioja, the Basque Country and the Autonomous Community of Navarre. The other communities have no Easter Monday.