Semana Santa (Holy Week) traditions are huge in Spain, and there have been processions dating from the 17th Century, but foreigners can get the wrong impression of this religious festival. The penitentes (penitents) processing through the streets wear pointed hoods called capirotes, which have nothing to do with the pointed hoods worn by white supremacist groups in America.


Pasar la noche en blanco (spend the night in white) is a colloquial Spanish expression, meaning not to have slept the night before. This is a fitting description for the sleepless nights of Semana Santa in Jerez de la Frontera, and some of the penitentes who spend their days and nights dressed in white.


We see behind the curtain. The costaleros carrying the paso (float) are usually hidden, but were revealed during this training session. Gone are the huge statues of Mary and Jesus, and all the religious artefacts that will adorn this paso - it is instead weighed down by their bags and coats. They practise the maneuvers that will later be expected of them during Holy Week when navigating the narrow streets from their local church to the Cathedral. Flamenco music can be heard from the nearby Peña (Flamenco hall), as the paso moves around this central square and gains an audience.



They appear like a procession in their own right. The market carts moving across the cobblestone roads to keep up with the other processions happening throughout the city.



A somber affair, the people become the blood that flows through the veins of the city. The rhythmic sounds and motions grounded in spirituality. The overwhelming intensity crashes like waves against the narrow streets. 



Semana Santa processions were cancelled because of COVID-19

In August-21, there was a small procession through the streets, but without the traditional music and clothing, as it was replaced by face-masks and the sound of applause from those coming outside of their homes to witness it passing, and those joining in on the journey. The echoing of "vamos" could be heard, as the processions slowly moved outside of sight from the window.