I got to experience Easter week (Semana Santa) when I lived in Seville (Spain).
And what an experience that was.
I didn't go to a service or anything...I don't understand Latin, nor am I Catholic (the only available denomination in Seville).
But in Spain, they bring the festivities to you...
Whether you ask for it or not.
Parades of people wearing scary creepy robes carrying massive scenes from the Bible all through the town.
Chanting and singing.
Until it's over
And all is quiet...until
You just turn a corner and BAM!
This dude is standing right in front of you.
And you let out a slight scream.
(It was dark, I'm American, these costumes symbolize a bad bad thing in America)
(And I'd been drinking...which I did a lot of over there...bottomless tintos de verano...mmm)
Anyway, so different churches have 'brotherhoods' and they wear these lovely robes and hoods...these men and boys (no women allowed) are called nazarenos.
Everyone in the group I was walking around with laughed at me and the only other American, who by the way, was also genuinely freaked out by the outfits.
The one that made me scream was towards the end of the night...er...maybe morning...I was, um, somewhat, slightly...nevermind.
Anyway, I saw them setting up for the big parade of people all through the week as I walked to work, and was excited to see bits of it.
Day of I was walking with a couple people, still very much daylight, when I see this thing scuttle around a corner.
And then I saw another one.
These things were wearing KKK costumes.
My heart stopped and I gasped. My friends (british) said "what??!"
And I said, "Did you see those (whisper) KKK (back to normal voice) outfits?"
When we came across the other American, we both asked each other at the same time "DID YOU SEE THE KKK COSTUMES???"
We were creeped out.
The locals didn't appreciate our level of freaking out though.
We cooled it.
Until the scary one in black popped out in front of me.
And I screamed.
But these brotherhoods are identified by their colors. Only one group has all white--the others have different colored hoods and/or robes. Women dress in black and wear mantillas (I think that's what they're called) that are like tall black crowns with veils attached.
Here are some photos:
Maybe the pictures don't give you the true idea--the feeling.
Cuz, seriously, I really truly felt weird and creeped out by the robes and hoods.
That's the difference between cultures though--even between two western countries.
Oh, and FYI, you can purchase mini Nazareno figurines to play with at home: