A click on this icon above displays the list of chapters of this film about Andalusia in Spain. A click on a dot goes directly to a chapter.
Reading the text below will help you better understand the cultural context of the images in this video.
01:00 • Toledo 2012
03:39 • Ronda 2022
06:33 • Seville 2022
15:49 • Granada 2022
23:20 • Baena 2022
The week before Easter is particularly important throughout Spain. Spain is a very catholic country and the passion and the crucifixion of Jesus are celebrated everywhere in the country.
Between Palm Sunday and Easter, hundreds of members of religious brotherhoods march towards a church or cathedral, accompanying heavy statues carried by dozens of men through the streets of the city.
Dressed in a tunic and wearing a pointed hat, these devotees are in fact penitents. In reality, nowadays these festivals also and perhaps above all have a folkloric character attracting huge crowds, but this was not the case originally.
The color of the tunics and pointed hats vary according to the brotherhoods to which the participants belong.
Origin of processions
These traditions originated in the Middle Ages, but many experts agree that the form of devotion we know today dates back to the early 17th century. These processions are therefore 400 years old.
These penitents, whose costume may have inspired that infamous secret society known as the Ku Klux Klan in the United States, hide their faces so as not to be recognized. This is also the only common point between the parades of Semana Santa and those of the KKK. As at the start, participation in these processions was intended to expiate their faults, they did not really want to be recognized by their neighbors, who would inevitably have asked questions...
These daily processions are themed around an event believed to have occurred on the corresponding day of the last week of Christ's life.
In addition to their expiatory nature, these processions also had an educational role in an almost illiterate medieval society at a time when celebrations in churches were held in a language that practically no one understood, Latin.
If these processions take place everywhere in the country, it is in the southern provinces, in Andalusia that they are the most spectacular.
If roughly the principle of the processions follows a common pattern in Spain, there may be local nuances.
Thus, in Baena in the Cordoba region, Jewish brotherhoods invite themselves to the party, playing the drum at the top of their voices. Wearing a Roman helmet with a long black or white ponytail, these musicians dressed in red jackets animate the streets to the sound of their instruments.
Here too, this tradition takes root in the ancient history of the region and time has added that touch of humor which makes the charm of these games between coliblancos (those with a white mane) and colinegros (who wear a black mane ) during which a drum duel decides between the protagonists.
But the drums of Baena are only a particular aspect in addition to the course of the more traditional processions.
About the 5 places in this film
The current city site of Toledo, 70 kilometers from Madrid in Spain was already inhabited from the Bronze Age. In 192 BC, the Romans founded Toletum which was plundered several times by the barbarians in the 5th century, before becoming the capital of the Visigoths around 550. Later, at the beginning of the 8th century, Toledo fell into Muslim hands. Toledo will be taken over at the end of the 11th century. In the 12th century, Toledo became an essential cultural center, notably through the prestige of Jewish intellectuals who distinguished themselves by the quality of their translations of Greco-Arabic science. Toledo became at this time the capital of Castile and one of the richest cities in Spain. The end of the 14th century saw the beginning of a bloody repression against all that was not Catholic. This repression is known as the Inquisition and the Jews paid a heavy price for it.
Following a major rebellion at the beginning of the 16th century, Toledo will be abandoned as the capital in favor of Madrid.
Toledo is famous for the quality of the swords that were made there and still has an important production of knives.
Seville is the capital and economic heart of Andalusia in southern Spain. It is the fourth city in Spain. It is located in a rich agricultural region and benefits from an important communications network. Seville also has a very rich history and is also a major cultural center.
Ronda is a city in Andalusia which reached its peak under the Moorish rule of Spain from the 11th century. The reconquest of the region by the Catholic kings was accompanied by severe religious intolerance, driving Arabs and Jews out of the region. This led to its decline, which only ended in the middle of the 18th century, when Ronda became the capital of bullfighting.
Granada is a city that has always played an important role in the history of Spain. The city and the region were the last to be reconquered by the crown of Castile, the Arab influence having developed there several centuries after the start of the reconquistada. One of the city's most famous monuments is the Alhambra Palace, a masterpiece of Hiapano-Arabic architecture.
Baena is a small town in Andalusia in Spain, in the province of Cordoba. Like much of Spain, the city was taken by the Moors in the 8th century, and its trade with Córdoba, which was the largest city in western mound in the year 1000, gave it its prosperity.
What's the weather like in Toledo?
What's the weather like in Andalusia
Spoken comments in the film:
The origin of Easter processions in Spain dates back to the Middle Ages, but the form we know today seems to date from the early 17th century. Hundreds of penitents, gathered in brotherhoods parade through the streets, dressed in a tunic and a pointed hat, accompanying statues several hundred years old representing the passion of Christ. A statue of the Virgin Mary traditionally closes the procession.
The statues carried in procession, often very heavy and carried by dozens of men concealed under a hanging, refer to the events supposed to have occurred in Jerusalem on the corresponding day of Holy Week.
The decorated altars that men carry during Holy Week processions are not only very heavy but also very precious. They are called pasos. Some are centuries old and the brotherhoods take the greatest care of them. So if there is a risk of rain, the processions are canceled to avoid damaging the precious pasos. Sometimes this cancellation takes place at the last moment. And then, we see dozens of participants wandering the streets in their pointy hat costumes...
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