Holy or Easter Week (Semana Santa) – the week between the end of Lent and Easter, marked by large-scale and extremely colorful religious holidays throughout Spain. The tradition of celebrating the Easter week in this way was born, as is commonly believed, around the 15th century. Starting from Palm Sunday, every day throughout the week, cities are filled with processions going on the procession from chapels and sanctuaries to the main temples and back. The procession reaches its peak on Thursday and Friday, when their number in a single city can reach several tens per day. Some participants in the processions carry on their shoulders the so-called Pasos – richly decorated platforms on which the figures of saints are installed and scenes from the last days of Christ’s earthly life are depicted. Others, usually dressed in long hoodies and caps with slots for the eyes, accompany the procession. Let us dwell in more detail on the terminology and the order of the Easter processions characteristic of both Castile.
The soul of the holiday, the main participants and in every sense its driving force are the so-called Kofradias – religious brotherhoods akin to monastic, but consisting of ordinary citizens. As a rule, to join a fraternity you need to be a member of the family or a childhood friend of someone who is already in it. It is considered commonplace to accept in the ranks of the fraternity a newborn child whose parents are listed there. Historically, fraternities are extremely closed structures. In the olden years, only family members were received in them in a descending line, and the wardrobes were formed by representatives of several specific families. A prerequisite for joining the fraternity of a person from the outside is the presence of a guarantor from among the brothers who takes responsibility for teaching the beginner the principles and traditions and for his successful pouring into the team. The foundations and traditions of any fraternity oblige first of all to be a faithful Catholic and not to forget about the needs of the fraternity itself, which is much more than just a company of people who dress up in traditional hoodies for Spanish goofrades. After joining the fraternity, the “beginner” spends part of his first salary just for these needs, and in the future, as far as he can, he takes part in providing the necessary material supply. In particular, earlier, when there was no system of state social benefits, the widow of a deceased member of the fraternity had the right to regular cash benefits, which were collected by a swindler
The highest honor that a member of the fraternity can be awarded is the transitional post of majordom. This post is awarded, as a rule, only once in a lifetime, being already in years. The Majordom presides over all acts throughout the holiday, and also bears a significant financial burden, since on the day of the procession he must feed and drink the remaining members of the fraternity. If the fraternity is small, it is in full force resting and eating in the house of the majordom; otherwise, one of the catering establishments is chosen for the meal. The following year, they will be entrusted with majordomos to carry the ornate standard of the fraternity at the head of the procession. Often this standard is not carried on a pole or cross, but wrapped around the body.
On Holy Thursday and Holy Friday, in the first hour of the afternoon, those members of the fraternity who will carry the Paso come with tunics in their hands to the house of the majordom to dress “in uniform” and go to collect the other brothers. The collection thus turns into yet another colorful procession. After the gathering of all the fraternities is completed, they in full force move to the city hall, where the ritual of greetings of the authorities takes place, and then disperse to their chapels and shrines, from where at a certain hour they will go in procession.
Throughout childhood and adolescence, a member of the fraternity, in addition to history and traditions, learns the necessary technique, so that when the time comes, without interruptions and overlays, to fulfill the honorable duty: to carry out the “paso” from the sanctuary and carry it along the necessary route. This honor falls to those whose age is not less than 20 and not more than 55 years, since the Paso is an extremely heavy thing, and good physical preparation is required from its porters.
The list of those trusted by Paso is approved annually by the fraternity council. The list is compiled exclusively on a voluntary basis, but of course, there is never a shortage of people who wish. The list always includes two spare porters in case someone from the main staff is unable to take part in the procession. Further, the “porters” are distributed according to growth and experience: the tallest and most experienced will go in front, the less stately – behind, and the short and inexperienced – on the sides of the paso. In total, a large platform is supported laterally by approximately 20-25 people, not counting those under it. The tallest and most experienced of the porters takes place at the central front handrail under the platform. He is responsible for maneuvering the platform during the procession. A less tall, but no less experienced brother is located at the central rear handrail and makes sure that