In celebration of Semana Santa, we’re taking you on a trip of how the week leading up to Easter is celebrated in the Spanish-speaking world. To keep things a bit more interesting, here are some of the more unique, wackier, and surprising ways Semana Santa is celebrated. Maybe these will make you re-think how “normal” the idea of the Easter Bunny hiding eggs full of candy is.
Spain has one of the most quintessential celebrations for Semana Santa, but the tradition can be quite surprising for outsiders. There are large processions in most cities, particularly in Seville, Valladolid, and Zamora—which has some of the oldest celebrations in Spain. There are biblical readings and processions with large “pasos” (religious statues) to re-enact the scenes surrounding Jesus’ death. But perhaps the most striking element of Semana Santa in Spain is the capirote—the pointed silk hat worn by clergy members in the processions. The garments date back to traditions from the days of the Inquisition and are also popular in some Latin American countries. The cone shape of the head covering is actually meant to point to Heaven, reaching out with prayers for penance. You were probably already thinking it, but it’s a common cultural faux pas to confuse this with the outfits of the Klu Klux Klan. That’s why Spaniards like Antonio Banderas have spoken out on the true significance of the Semana Santa wear.