The preparations for Easter continue. We can find “besamanos”, “besapies”, rosaries of Aurora, announcements, exhibitions. The programs of Holy Week are issued, the balcony’s are prepared, concerts of processional marches begin, and there are more rehearsals of the float bearers.
It is a celebration that has its origin in the XVIth century. It is when the scenes of the life and death ofJesus Christ are represented in the streets to the surprise of onlookers. Since this date theya are popular manifestations of religiousness.
These brotherhoods have as their main aim the Divine Cult of our lord Jesus Christ and his mother the Virgin Mary, as well as the personal and collective promotion of the teaching of the Holy Mother Church. There are other activities of the Apostolate, such as iniciatives for Evangelisation, charity work, and animation with christian spirit.
They have their origins in the old guilds or lay associations, workers whose religious vocation was centered upon the same religious figure directed and promoted by some individual citizen or by, in some cases, a monk, priest or the parish priest of the place where the brotherhood first began.Their intention was to contemplate and imitate the passion and death of Christ by penitential acts, such as pain, affliction and penance. For example, there are associationsthat include bakers, slaves, catalan clothes merchants, horsemen, wagoneers, clergymen, the military, etc.
In Seville there are more than 50 brotherhoods that carry in procession more than 100 religious images..
They begin Palm Sunday (Domingo de Ramos) at noon with the departure of the Borriquita (the Donkey), performed in its majority by infants, to whom are added other brotherhoods that one, two, or three religious images (pasos) carried by the image bearers, in an organized procession and subject to specific shedules to enact the “stations of the cross” in the cathedral.Each day at noon the various brotherhoodsgo forth in penitance, each one represents different scenes from the Passion and Death of Christ until the dawn of Resurrection Sunday in which just one brotherhood marches past and who carry an image that represents the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and the Virgin of the Aurora, which is the finishing touc to this long and intense week.
During this week and in the morning the temples are visited where the brotherhoods are located that go forth in the afternoon and on Holy Thursday the Sagrario Shrines are visited, also attending the Holy offices. The women wear “mantillas” (lace head scarves, usually black) attend (a miserere), listen to“saetas”... the streets are jammed with people, there are processional marches while the brotherhoods carry the religious images making the stations of the cross in the Santa iglesia Cathedral.
Nowadays in Seville the church and the Easter brotherhoods develope a spiritual, social, beneficial function of cultural charity and throughout the year.
The Sunday of Resurrection
The season opens and begins in the “Real Maestranza de Caballería de Sevilla” Bull-ring, which holds the honor of being one of the Cathedrals of bull fighting. It’s history is tied to the conquest of the cisty by Fernando III in 1248, being the meeting place of the Brotherhood of San Hermenegildo.
The main bull fighting figures of history have passed through this bull-ring. It is one of the principal bull-rings of national and international level, and in fact it is said that if a bull fighter does not exit by the “Door of the Prince”, it is not possible to consider him a consecrated bull fighter.
As soon as Easter ends, in the heat of spring and always in the month of april, separated in time by just two weeks, the sevillians prepare themselves for the April Fair. The preparation and assembly begins six months beforehand.
It has its origin in 1846 as a fair conceived for the buying and selling of cattle, in which two men of basque and catalan origin,Narciso Bonaplata and Jose Maria de Ybarra signed a proposal asking authorization to celebrate this annual fair. Currently there only remain some vestiges like the bull fights and strolls on horsbeack around the “Real de la feria”.
In time this has become one of the most important and significant and representative celebrations of the city.
Initially it took place in the Prado of San Sebastian but at the end of the sixty’s it was moved to the district of Los Remedios where it occupies an area of more than one million square meters with more than 1000 “casetas” (stalls), the majority of them being privately owned, the remainder belonging to associations , organizations, companies, etc. It’s advisable to come to the fair accompanied by sevillians, as not only do they facilitate access to the casetas of friends and families.
Each year an arched entrance portal is constructed inspired by some of the emblematic monuments of the city which is painted and adorned by hundreds of thousand of light bulbs which decorate the main entrance to the fairground, lit on monday at midnight. Its illumination can be seen from various kilometers around.
The casetas are decorated and adorned with little lamps, embroidered cloth, cornucopias, paper flowers, pictures, mirrors, and the people dance and sing, drink manzanilla so that the inauguration day this house is the prolongation of one’s own house, which entitles each caseta to win the first prize for the best decoration.
When the Feria which lasts a week begins in the casetas there is no lack of fried fish, caldito (broth), ham, and manzanilla or various sherries. Dancing, singing and the get-togethers, reunions of friends and aquaintences gather in each caseta making it their own private house as it were. Femenine dress par excellence is the “faralaes”, or gypsy dress, which during this time is the most popular form of dressing in Seville.
By day, the people do not only enjoy the sevillian dances, flamenco and manzanilla and sherry, but can also enjoy strolling along on horseback until 8:00 pm during which the riders mount beautiful horses and the horse carriages are incredibly adorned with decorations.