This spring in Marbella was a gentle one, filled with sunshine, soft breezes and starry nights. The Holy Week processions happened with none of the uncertainty the threat of rain brought in previous years.
Started in the 16th century by religious brotherhoods, the Semana Santa processions display the faith and traditions of the Catholic church to the public and take place in almost every town in Spain. In Sevilla, with floats so large they need hundreds of people to carry them, processions can take up to fourteen hours.
Ornate floats decorated with flowers, lit candles and colorful statues of the Virgin Mary and Jesus, held aloft on the shoulders of the Costaleros (bearers) left the church plaza and wound their way down the crowded, narrow streets of Marbella’s Old Town. The pungent smell of incense burning in metal balls mingled with the sweetness of flowers in hanging pots. Passionate bullfight style music played by brass bands bounced off the white walls and cobbled streets.
Nazarenos (penitents) in medieval robes and capes with conical hoods, their faces covered so they could repent in anonymity, marched in pairs carrying long white candles.
The next day we stood outside one of the brotherhoods where women dressed in black dresses and elaborate lace head combs held silver staffs with gloved hands and patiently awaited the start of the next procession.