Holy Week in Seville
Holy week, or ´Semana Santa´ for the locals, is coming to Seville soon!
If you are one of the lucky ones taking our 5 week extended TEFL course over this special time, or even if you are visiting the city for leisure, here are some things you need to know:
Semana Santa is celebrated the week just before Easter. This year, it means starting on Sunday 20th of March (on Palm Sunday) and ending on Saturday 26th of March (on Holy Saturday). For some people, it coincides with the week of Lent. Historians date the beginnings of Semana Santa to the 3rd or 4th century.
The celebration is complex and very meaningful to the people who take part in it. But in a nutshell it consists of processions, or ´pasos´, marching solemnly down the main streets to the sound of brass bands. Brotherhoods from each church will dress in their very own set of coloured robes and carry candles in a matching colour too. The men wearing the slightly ominous conical head-dresses are nothing to be feared. They are called ´Nazarenos´, their hat is called a ´capirote´ and if you ask them nicely, they might even give you candy or a picture of a saint.
Each ´paso´ will have one or several heavy wooden floats carried down the street atop a squadron of burly men called ´costaleros.´ These men practice for months in the lead-up and have to swap in and out from under the float at regular intervals to rest their backs. You can sometimes spot them readjusting their head towels and drinking water during changeovers.
The floats themselves are ornately carved out of wood or plaster and painted to depict a chronological progression of the events between Christ´s arrest and his burial and Mary grieving for her son. Even if you are not religious, the pomp and ceremony and sheer effort on display remains moving and fascinating.
As a TEFL student during this week, you need to be very mindful of the logistics of this celebration. The ´pasos´ and crowds of spectators will render any short walk through the centre of town an absolute nightmare. If you need to get anywhere quickly, whether it is to print your materials, to buy supplies or just to get to the school, the key is: allow extra time and bring a map for detours.
We also recommend that you research all the available ´copisterias´ or online in the lead-up to this week so you are not caught short and found tearing your hair out outside a closed printing shop. Don’t worry though, as that week approaches, our team also give you tips on which places will be open to avoid this drama as much as possible. We are also working on having a list on our website soon!
To fully immerse you in Sevillian culture, our standard course includes free Spanish classes and Sevillanas classes (a popular dance from Seville). Our course also begins with a walking tour of the city and its most iconic landmarks. During this tour, we will even show you around the closest places to the school to eat, buy materials and print.
So come check out Seville at its most iconic time of year. And while you´re at it, why not get your TEFL Certificate while you are at it?