Thursday, July 2, 2009

Seville - Festival City, ESP

Given my label as a "festival chaser", I was disappointed to have missed Semana Santa (holy week) in Seville, which is considered THE most significant religious festival in all of Spain. But as luck would have it, there were many other opportunites to experience religiosity in Seville, as two significant festivals occurred during our time there. The first was the procession of Our Lady of Esperanza (Hope), in which a large procession of the Virgen Mary adorned with flowers and hundreds of candles was solemnly carried across town directly in front of our apartment - accompanied by parish locals, farm animals and marching bands. We had a perfect birdseye view from our balcony as they passed by. We had no idea that this procession was occurring, but were fortunate enough to be there for it. It always amazes me how well-attended these events are, but how little they are advertised in the public forums. Perhaps as a way to keep these more of a "local" flavor. However, the next festival, the Feast of the Eucharist (Corpus Christi) was much better advertised. One lazy afternoon, we noticed religious items being dropped off at various points around town, but we were not clear as to their purpose. As we finished up our meal in the plaza, we were amazed to see the town begin to come "alive" as the colorful displays were now fully set up, and were beautifully adorned with candles, flowers, tapestries and offerings of bread and wine. The whole city seemed to come out that evening, strolling the main pedestrian streets and peering into storefront windows, where each shop would sport its own mini display, often with a baby Jesus or figure of Mary along with offerings of bread and wine - all in front of flamenco dresses, lingerie and kitchenware. You gotta love the ironic juxtaposition of religion and commercialism - apparently Spain is not immune from this.

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