One of the most fundamental features of Andalusian culture, when it comes to establishing its festive rites, is its respect for the cycles of nature. It is a culture with strong pantheistic (or rather “panenteístic”) tendencies which tend to see the cosmos as the Supreme creator through which in turn finds its reflection in the movement of all that inhabits the universe. In this perspective, the cycles and seasons of the year celebrate an in-person mystery that does not help to try to define conceptually but infuses a profound communion in the sharing of the feeling of sacredness. This feeling, in turn, pervades all rites, especially those of spring, from the most sacred to the naive and playful.
Seville’s Holly week.
The Holy Week of Seville is considered the essence of a rite that we find very rooted in the folklore of the Iberian Peninsula. Although sometimes it may sound strange, the Andalusian Holy Week is primarily a feast, indeed one with a sacred character, but still a celebration. This kind of festivity should be understood as a meeting of people who celebrate something very personal, and therefore, often share this belief with unusual joy eating, drinking, and dancing. This festive concept has severe variants, while never failing to be a fundamental element in the southern Spain tradition. Even the manifestations of faith surprise with its unfathomable peculiarity, as can be the explosions of joy and hope that spring from the deeps of the great night of Good Friday.
It is important to let yourself be carried away in this sea of feelings that develop in a frame of inexhaustible beauty that glorifies the senses. The city is the tempo of the Baroque in a tradition that preserves at the same time the roots of the ancient classicism, with each procession moving from the exaltation to the rigor in the shapes and the magic of the moving geometry.
The fair is the setback of Easter, a unique phenomenon in its peculiar dynamism, a weeklong party which takes place in the second half of April. All the enthusiasm that the city has contained in the form of internal sentiments, all the energy expressed in subtle vibrations full of nostalgic poetry during the Holy Week, all this contention finally emerges transformed in a fantastic explosion of dance and joy.
However, it is important to emphasize that the fair is a modern phenomenon that was born in the late nineteenth century with the development of livestock fairs and new ways of having fun that reflects the broad social divisions that the city knows.
Nowadays it is an essential step to connect with the festive atmosphere that characterizes the city and to know the real character of the Sevillians, and some would say that for better and for worse.
The Pilgrimage of Pentecost in El Rocío is a very authentic southern tradition, and also Spain’s largest religious festival. This doesn’t mean that this particular and massive celebration of Pentecost has not fallen in its own way in the perversions of the modern world or by the modifications imposed by the religious authorities, surely it does as a provocative spiritual manifestation which is entirely free and rebellious.
El Rocio village always surprises first-timers with its sandy unpaved streets all lined with large colourfull houses with huge porches and verandahs. Beyond these houses, the shining Doñana marismas (wetlands) contrast with the setting. A surreal landscape which plays a game of light on the marshes.
Whether it’s this magical scenery, or a woman passing by dressing in a sultry Flamenco costume, or a man singing to the Virgin as it moves by carried away by a brotherhood, there’s always something that will catch your attention in El Rocio’s yellow sandy streets.
Seville has a real spring during eastern, with wildflowers in full bloom and festivities taking place every week, and it does host two of these major traditions, the Holy Week and the April Fair, but be aware that these celebrations also attract masses of travelers so it is advised to make some advance planning.