Monday, 25 April 2011

Semana Santa in Cartagena ..... April 2011

Locals in folk costume on Patron Saints Day
15 - 25 April 2011

The yearly Easter celebrations in Cartagena start with Viernes de Dolores, Day of the Patrona, on the Friday before Palm Sunday. 

At 5pm, thousands of locals gather in the main Plaza to take part in the Ofrenda floral, a colourful procession in which families dress in folk costume, carrying bouquets of flowers, and walk through the streets then give their floral offerings to the towns patron saint.

From then on the parades/processions were a daily occurence, right through until Easter Sunday. 
More colourful local costumes on
 Cartagena Patron Saint Day

The first night for us was the most powerful, as hundreds of townspeople marched the narrow streets, some wearing plush red velvet cloaks, many with the hoods up.  They were interspersed by equally as many processioners in blood red long satin robes, rustling as they went by, their heads and faces covered by what I could only describe as a Klu Klux Klan hood, with the tall pointy top and slits for their eyes.  Not a word was spoken, and sitting there watching this solemn mass of people slowly walk by, the scent of inscense in the air, the drums pounding in the distant, it was a powerful - almost scary scene.
The first had the most impact on us

On each night leading up to Easter Sunday the processions would generally start at 9pm (it's still light here now until around 9.20pm) and most of the time they would last at least 2 hours, some longer.  One evening all the town lights were extinguished and the processions were by candlelit, affording an even more sombre  mood. 

Of course, as with most things, once you have seen a couple of 2 or 3 hour processions, they do start to look rather the same.  There were certainly many different costumes, and each night there would also be a parade of floats, often carried by over a hundred men or women.  They depicted the different stages leading up to resurrection of Christ.

It was great to be here and experience this week of celebrations.  We also had some "down under" company during this time.  Phil and Margaret off the Australian trawler Argos were in port, after wintering in Barcelona.  We wintered in Marmaris with them in 2008, and first saw them way back in 2005.  It was great to have some friends in town, even for just a few days.

Evening processions took place every night for a week
Today is Easter Monday, it is not a holiday here which we find rather strange, but after so many days of a festive atmosphere maybe they are all worn out and eager to get back to their normal lives again.  We are still at a loss as to when the Spaniards actually sleep, after being in Spain now for 7 months we still can't get used to the times things happen.  Restaurants not opening until 9pm - then not getting busy till around 10.30pm is still so foreign to us.  The opening hours for businesses and retail is an ongoing mystery, with many, but not all, observing a daily siesta.  Sundays are still a day of rest, cafes and bars are open but nothing else here is.  But on a fine Sunday, after church, the squares and waterfront are crowded with families and friends out strolling, promenading, chatting, children playing - enjoying their leisure time without any outside distractions.
There were many hundreds dressed like this

The "to do" list is all done, sure there are still more jobs that would be good to do (have to save something for next year) but Balvenie is now looking the best she has since we bought her.  We have endless new systems installed and it is nearly time to untie the docklines, get out there and test all our work and set sail for another season,

We have loved our time in the Med and very much enjoyed Europe but Balvenie is straining at her lines as once again the western horizon calls we go along for the ride !!

(for more photos of the parades click here )

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