Andalucian Traditions and Customs
Andalucia has many traditions with Easter being the most important and SEMANA SANTA, (Holy Week) celebrated all over Andalucia, the biggest processions being in Malaga, Seville & Granada. The various HERMANDADS, (Brotherhoods), make their solemn procession through Malaga every night of Holy Week with GOOD FRIDAY being the most sombre and moving, with the gilded floats carrying the Virgin weeping into a black lace hanky or crowned and ethereal under a canopy surrounded by lilies and candles.
Visitors come from far and wide to join the locals in RIOGORDO as more than 400 take part in the PASSION PLAY, an extremely moving spectacle and at some of the scenes there is hardly a dry eye. EASTER SUNDAY is a day for rejoicing with the floats of Jesus and Mary dancing in the streets of many towns and villages.
NAVIDAD (Christmas), is a real family time where most homes will set up a BELEN, a representation of the Nativity and can be very modest or extravagant, and no Spanish home would be without one. NOCHEBUENA, (Christmas Eve), is of greater significance than Christmas Day, and by early evening the shops will be closing and streets emptying as everyone heads home for the traditional Christmas Eve feast, followed by Midnight Mass.
Christmas Day is quiet and then the build up to NOCHEVIEJA, (New Years' Eve), begins. Young ones go to one of the many discos which go on until dawn and often include breakfast of hot chocolate and churros, or you can join the crowds outside the Town Halls for champagne and grapes, traditionally eating one for every chime of the clock. Also it is supposedly important to wear red underwear, although it has to be given to you by a friend. After a subdued NEW YEAR'S DAY the excitement mounts as the DAY OF THE THREE KINGS (January 6th) approaches. Children leave their shoes out for gifts from The Kings on the night of 5th January, and there are processions all over Andalucia heralding the arrival of The Kings.
MALAGA FERIA lasts for 10 days and nights in August, so, as you can imagine, not a lot of work gets done, (it's too hot anyway!!). Malaga welcomes tourists to join in the festivities and the Malaguenas are renowned for their hospitality and joie de vivre.
There is something for all ages with the old quarter full of horses, decorated wagons, and men and women in traditional dress. After dark the fun moves to the fairground where one of the biggest fun-fairs in Spain is set up. Lots to do all night with the 'casetas', bars-cum-meeting places, inviting you to sample their cuisine and drinks and generally enjoy yourself.
PILGRIMAGES, (ROMERIAS), are numerous, the most famous being EL ROCIO. Gypsy wagons pulled by paired oxen, crowds in festive dress ride behind or follow on foot, girls riding with men, their skirts billowing over the horses rumps, to finalise in a huge picnic in the campo, with much singing, dancing, eating and drinking. "If you get about the best beauty and nought else, You get about the best thing God invents". An apt saying by Robert Browning
FLAMENCO originated in Andalucia and its Moorish origins can be heard in the wailing chants that are so much part of the dance. There are two basic types of flamenco - the slow, emotional 'Cante Jondo', (deep song), and the bright, cheerful 'Cante Chico', (light song), with rousing melodies and of course the wonderful, rhythmic clapping, stamping and castanet playing.
The GRANADA gypsies made their home in the caves of the SACROMONTE, high behind the city, and you will be drawn by the drumming of the zapateado, haunting guitar music and swirling Sevillana dresses. Close your eyes and imagine the stirring music, castanets, clapping and rhythm of the most famous gypsy of all, CARMEN.
Celebrations in honour of the patron saint of all fishermen and sailors, the VIRGEN DEL CARMEN, takes place all along the Costa del Sol around 16th July. Devotion goes back many centuries and the links between the VIRGEN DEL CARMEN and the people of the sea is indestructible. Religious processions start on land and then continue out to sea.
There are many more religious festivals in ANDALUCIA with the Night of the Candles in Comares during September quite moving, the May Crosses on May 3rd held in many towns and villages, stunningly beautiful, and NOCHE DE SAN JUAN, the night when an effigy of Judas Iscarriot is burnt on bonfires, with beach parties heralding the start of Summer.
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