Semana Santa or Holy Week is an annual week-long event in Spain meant to celebrate the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The most elaborate and extravagant processions are held in Malaga, Seville, Cartagena, Valladolid, Zamora and León.
However the city that goes all out for the event is Seville, as the entire city practically shuts down for the entire week.
Schools and most shops are closed, people have vacation from work (except waiters and bartenders, of course) and a 15 minute walk turns into an hour mess of fighting through crowds which have gathered on all the main streets to watch the proceedings go by.
These proceedings involve select individuals known as costaleros, which literally means “sack men” due to a sack-like cloth that they wear over their neck in an attempt to soften the burden of carrying loads up to five metric tons day after day.
The costaleros carry around pasos, which are lifelike and intricate wood or plaster sculptures depicting scenes from Jesus torture, killing and burial.
Images or sculptures of the Virgin Mary are common as well, usually with tears running down her cheeks, mourning in silence for her son.
Proceedings occur everyday throughout the week and many costaleros could spend 12 hours of their day lugging the heavy pasos around, all in the name of repenting for their sins.
Some may even walk barefoot to increase the physical pain they experience throughout the day.
The pasos are set up and maintained by hermandades and cofradías, religious brotherhoods common to a specific neighborhood of the city.
The members of these brotherhoods precede the paso dressed in Roman military costumes or penitential robes.
Every year, the traditional Holy Week in Seville, Spain is full of life.
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