Sunday, April 12, 2009
Semana Santa - Domingo de Pascua (Easter Sunday)
Today is Easter Sunday, marking the end of Holy Week (Semana Santa) in Spain. While the most significant Santa Semana celebrations take place in Andalucia (primarily Seville) and central Spain, several towns in the province of Valencia also host their own local versions. In particular, the mountain town of Pego hosted a number of processions throughout the town this entire week. I took the opportunity to see the final procession in Pego, which celebrated the moment when the Virgin Mary is reunited with her resurrected son for the first time. The procession began with two different parades leaving from different churches, one carrying a statue of the Virgen Mary and one carrying the risen Jesus. Each procession slowly wound its way through town with bands following -marching slowly to the beat of trumpets and drums - and culminated when the two statues were carried triumphantly into the town square to reunite. The bands then bursted into the "Hymn of Alegria", with children throwing caramelos and adults throwing flower petals at the statues. Of course, no festival in Spain would be complete without a mascleta (firecracker show) to cap off the celebration, and then the townspeople gathered up and returned to their respective parishes to celebrate Easter Mass. While the easter bunny is not well known in Spain (although he did make a surprise visit to our villa this morning - quite a feat considering the distance he had to travel!), the locals tend to spend the rest of the day with family, often heading down to the beach after mass to fly cometas (kites) and later enjoying a tarta de mona (a sweet pastry with a whole egg in the center) or a tarta de pasas y nueces (raisin and nut cake). For us, tarta de nueces was the hands-down winner of the day.