One of my favorite parts of living in Spain was the constant calendar of festivals and holidays, large and small, celebrating just about anything. During the year I lived in Galicia I made it a point to go to as many as possible. Though most are jovial and celebratory, the mood is somber during Semana Santa (Holy Week).
While I’m not a religious person, in 2011, a photography contest and general curiosity took me to the small town of Paradela in the province of Lugo, for the annual reenactment of Jesus’ last hours and crucifixion on Viernes Santo (Holy Friday) during.
The fervor and realism with which it’s done was a bit shocking – even to the product of 12 years of Irish Catholic schooling.
There was no need for fake blood or sweat, as the crown of thorns and whips assured that they were genuinely spilled.
The whole event lasted for hours and reenacted all the key moments – from praying in the garden, to carrying the cross up a hill to the actual crucifixion (thankfully he was not actually nailed to the cross, although it looked real).
Almost on cue, it began to drizzle then heavily rain as the afternoon went on. (Note: it is not cancelled in the event of rain.)
The whole scene was a far cry from the Easter events I remember as a child, which was all about hunting pastel eggs in my new dress and stuffing my face with Sarris chocolate covered pretzels. I wonder if I’d still be a believer had I grown up watching my neighbor spill blood rather than toss lollipops from a fire truck.