What I won’t miss about Semana Santa

Following on from last week’s blog about why I’ll miss Semana Santa, here are a few reasons why I’m actually glad not to be there this year.

Semana Santa - waiting around

Waiting around in la Madrugada. Photo by Machbel

Waiting around

I do love Semana Santa, but at times I get frustrated and annoyed that we have to wait so long for the processions. I don’t mind the walking about and finding new places to see certain processions, but it’s the standing around that does my head in. Especially if you get caught up in a place where people decide to use you as a mini gate way for a short cut, which often seems to happen as I’m a guiri. The waiting can be fun if you’re having a beer or something, or if you feel fresh as its early in the day, but when it’s late and you’ve been walking about all day and your calves are aching and you just want to go home and have a kip, then it can get tiring. There’s not much that’s going to change though. If anything the processions are going to get longer as the years go on, not shorter.

The State of the City

Sevillanos aren’t the best civilians in the world at keeping their city clean, so imagine the state the place gets in during Semana Santa. It gets trashed. I find it incredible that the locals treat it so badly. It’s supposed to be a religious festival, which means being nice to others and respecting the area, but a lot of people don’t seem to care. They are quite happy to throw their empty packets of crisps, balls of tin foil, and sunflower seed shells all over the floor. Not to mention the glass bottles smashed, wrappings from Burger King or McDonalds, and, of course, the lovely peeing up against the walls.

The worst place is las Sillas – the Chairs – originally named for the richer, posher members of Sevilla. It’s here where the suited and booted sit and watch the processions all week. I tried it once, but I found it dull and boring to watch processions from the same seat all day. Anyway, the state of the floor once the chairs have been packed up is atroscious. It’s always the wealthier members of society who seems to treat the place like rubbish.

General Bad Feeling

At least once a day I normally get annoyed about the behaviour of people during the festival. I see Semana Santa as a time to be respectful and also try to have patience with others, but that’s hard to do when there are so many muppets about. On more than one occasion I’ve been shoved out the way by people trying to push past me and get a closer look at a procession. Once I was with my Dad and wife waiting to see a procession when I guy came and set up a ladder right in front of us so he could take better photos. I gave him a right ear full when it had finished. There’s a lot of shoving about too. People pushing in, stamping on your feet, complaining at each other and a lot of bad feeling. I find the attitude of some people incredible when it’s supposed to be a peaceful time of year

Semana Santa bulla

Una Bulla on the Puente de Triana… Photo by Machbel

Las Bullas

A bulla – massive crowd – can be frightening. Imagine you have seen a procession and you want to head home, or you are trying to get through some streets to see another procession, but you can’t because there are so many people that the streets are blocked. Now imagine that about 400 people all want to go a different way and the chaos that is formed. It’s mental.

I got caught up in one near the cathedral once and it was scary. I got caught up behind a woman with a buggy (I don’t know why they bother bringing them out) and the crowd were literally pushing her over. I had to rescue her and push people out the way so she, and I, could get past.

Sometimes you can’t escape a bulla and it just creeps up on you. The best thing to do is keep calm and think that you will eventually get to where you want to go.

Respect

I spoke about doing my penitence in my other blog, but one aspect that saddens and frustrates me is the respect from the locals at times. Everyone knows that some processions are done in silence, which means the crowds should be quiet when we walk round, but this doesn’t always happen. The worst part is Las Sillas. The posher, stuck up members of Sevilla often talk and chat as we go past, and the parents don’t control their kids who are constantly asking for sweets and brotherhood stamps.

When we come out of the cathedral and pass up through the narrow Calle Francos, the crowds get even worse and often people try to push past me when I’m standing still. Last year one guy elbowed me out the way. He tried to do the same to the guy in front but he got sent flying. It’s frustrating because a lot of people don’t respect traditions, and this is coming from a guiri.

Semana Santa - impressive

Great Memories. Photo by Sergio Lora

Saying that, like I said in my previous blog, I do love Semana Santa. The passion of the Sevillanos is impressive. It was hard to understand the devotion at first, but now I appreciate it and also look forward to the festival every year. I’m honoured that I’m able to take part in such an important event here and look forward to the years to come.

Have you ever witnessed Semana Santa in Sevilla, or other parts of Spain? How did you feel? If you are ever passing through Sevilla during Semana Santa and want to get in touch about the best processions to see or ask me any questions then just leave a comment below. Thanks for reading.

13 thoughts on “What I won’t miss about Semana Santa

  1. I know exactly how you feel, even though most of my semana santas have been spent in the much smaller pueblo of Conil where the bottlenecks are much smaller, even though they can still be very frustrating.

    And talking about Sevillanos, I love them, but boy, they must be the noisiest most untidy people in the world. We get hordes of them descending on Conil every summer. The young ones must sleep ten to a room, at times, to save money, as holiday rents are far too high here. They spend all their money on drink and stay up all night making the most terrible racket. I love their sense of joy in life, but the months of July and August can get really tiring for us, who have to work. Luckily, though I prefer the centre of Conil, we don’t live there anymore, but a little outside. so we can sleep in peace these days.

    1. Hey Bryan,

      Thanks for writing. Yeah I know what you mean about Sevillanos, not slept much actually thanks to the singing and shouting at 4am last night, plus getting up at 6.30am to feed my baby boy…all good fun though. I’ve only passed through Conil, but I guess it can get manic living by the sea in the summer. I always wonder what it’s actually like to live by the coast and whenever I take a trip somewhere near the beach I struggle to come back to Seville. What’s it like living down there? How is it in the winter?

      1. Not as cold as Seville, by the look of the news on the telly, but it´s not very lively, as most places close for the winter season. For us, that´s a bit of a bummer, as my partner, Angelica is an artist, and a good part of our income is derived from her drawing portraits in the summer. If we´re ever able to afford it, we´ll probably move inland, because we really like the countryside, and the tourist season gets too much after a few years,

        Having said that, if you love the sea and quiet, little seaside towns, you can´t do much better than Conil with its vast stretches of beautiful beaches, mostly empty for the greater part of the year. It´s a big draw for surfers, windsurfers and all the other types of sailboard activity from late September up to June, with a lot of paragliding too.

        1. Must try to get down to Conil. A lot of my students speak highly of it so would be a shame not to experience it. I guess your partner is busy now with portraits then, what type of portraits though? Why does it have to be in the summer?

          1. Though she’s getting more work through the web, most of her work depends on tourists, and Conil is mostly a summer destination, with Spanish tourists in the majority. A very large number come from Seville, strangely enough, as I think I’ve mentioned before.

            It doesn’t get into swing until the middle of June and finishes on the dot at the end of August. That’s one of the reasons we’re thinking of moving.

            You can take a look at her site to see what sort of portraits. It’s at:

            angelicawesterhoff.wordpress.com

            Read your post on the feria in Seville. Can’t say I’m much of a fan of ferias either, though the small one at nearby El Colorado can be interesting if you’re at the right stage of drunkenness; not too much fino and not too little.

          2. Hey Bryan, thanks for writing again. Just checked out your wife’s blog, some great portraits on there. If we’re ever in the area, and have some free cash, then we’d love one of our son. Yeah the right amount of fino is hard to judge sometimes, especially if mixed with 7up. More of a wine drinker myself.

  2. What I won’t miss is the restricted parking in the streets here in Jimena. Notices go up telling you no parking due to the processions, but there were none last Friday when I left my car and I didn’t go back to it until I heard the procession on Palm Sunday – past my car, oops!!!!. AND so I then left the car in the market car park, the market is on Fridays so normally you can park there at other times. So on Thursday I go down to find the market has been set up around my car – they actually left me room to get out which was very nice of them but it was SO embarrassing….How was I meant to know the market was on Thursday this week? Now I am waiting for the fines to come through the post 🙁

    1. Haha, at least they left you room to get out. Parking is a nightmare in Sevilla, or so they tell me; I’ve not driven since I passed my test back when I was 16…daren’t get behind the wheel now, especially in Spain.

      1. I would happily give up driving but at the moment it is essential. There are lots of cyclists in this area and it is very difficult to overtake them when you have very impatient drivers behind you, and you go to pull out and find the car 3 back from you has already pulled out….aaah!

  3. Love this article. Awesome work, felt like I was there in the middle of it all, loving it but feeling the same frustrations as you so wonderfully describe.. With my knees walking around all day like that would not be an option so thanks for the heads up on that one. I am far from rich so no idea where I could find a place to sit with people of similar means to myself. Anyway yet again an article that transported me right into the middle of an event I have so often wondered about,and truth be told a place I so often dream about on the stormy days here. I love your writing style and work, full respect to you, This article especially made the city come alive to me in a real and tangible way, I love reading your stuff dood !

    1. Thanks dood. Yeah the sillas are quite expensive, I think you have to buy them for the whole week, 300 euros, which isn’t that bad I suppose for a week, but if there are a few of you then you’re talking about a decent beach holiday…

      Thanks again for the big up…

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