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What is Semana Santa?

Semana Santa - if you couldn’t guess - is a holy week which celebrates Easter and pays tribute to the passions of Jesus Christ. It is celebrated differently throughout Spain - it is considered a more somber and religious affair in Castile and Leon but its celebrated in a more fun and glamorous way in cities like Seville and Malaga. In Valencia, particularly in areas such as el Cabanyal and el Grao, they celebrate Semana Santa in their own way by incorporating the sea - Semana Santa Marinera.

Key Events

Semana Santa began in the 16th century as a way of explaining the passions of Christ in a visual way so that the lay people could understand. Now it consists of different processions on Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday (Domingo de Ramos, Jueves Santo, Viernes Santo and Domingo de Resurrección) carried out by the different religious brotherhoods of each city. They usually carry heavy floats depicting Christ and the Virgin Mary to pay homage to when Jesus carried the cross. Many worshippers wear hoods as a symbol of mourning throughout the week, but these are removed on Easter Sunday to celebrate the resurrection.

How does Valencia celebrate?

Due to their heritage as fishermen, many people in Valencia involve the sea into their celebrations of Semana Santa. Processions take place on the beach where worshippers direct their prayers to the sea. Another unique tradition is that Valencians dress up as Biblical characters such as Lazarus and Pontius Pilate. On the day before Easter Sunday there is Trencà del perols where people smash their old plates and crockery and throw them from their balconies - so don’t use the fine china. The procession on Easter Sunday is fun and colourful - with flower petals thrown from windows covering the streets.

Semana Santa may not go ahead as normal due to the pandemic, but you should still be able to see some of the celebrations happening here in Valencia!

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