With acknowledgement to local historian Andy Ormiston, he informed me “The origins of Torrevieja’s Semana Santa processions date back to March 1807 when Don Antonio Blasco y Viudes donated a statue of la Soledad and this image was used in the first procession. In 1846 the town hall undertook the expenses of these fiestas and in 1912 the week took on an extra splendour when the local ‘carabinieri’ police marched in their ceremonial uniforms and ever since military personnel have appeared during the processions, sometimes as a musical band.”
Andy continued, “After the war in 1940, the women undertook the first defiant procession wearing their black mantillas along with the image of the Virgen de la Esperanza that led on to larger processions. In 1981 the Junta Mayor de Cofradias became the ruling body organizing all the various processions and allied events. In 1986 His Majesty Don Juan Carlos accepted the position of honorary member of the Torrevieja Holy Week fraternity. Cofradias are the groups, brotherhoods, fraternities or guilds that are composed of ‘capirotes’, meaning those with tall dunce style hats; costaleros are those who carry the various tronos. Each cofradia has its own colours and symbols that can usually be seen on the trono (float) and on the lanterns carried in the processions.”
Those attending any of the processions cannot fail to notice the hundreds of children who line the route, all with their plastic bags at the ready, to fill with sweets, which are handed out by the members of the cofradias. Regarding the line up for the event, the tronos consist of: Convocatoria y Mujer Samaratina, Nuestro Padre Jesus en la Ultima y Sagrada Cena (The Last Supper), Santisimo Cristo de la Flagelacion (Jesus Whipped at the Pillar), San Pedro Arrepentido (St. Peter the Repentant) of La Mata, Nuestro Padre Jesus Cautivo Nazareno (Prisoner Jesus of Nazareth), Santa Mujer Veronica (St. Veronica) carried by women, Nuestro Señora de la Esperanza y de la Paz, Cristo Crucificado y Maria Santisima del Silencio, (Crucified Jesus and Silent Mary), not forgetting the appearance of black clad women wearing typical Spanish mantilla headdress, Nuestra Señora de la Piedad (Holy Mother Mary), Santo Sepulcro Yacente (Jesus in the Tomb), San Juan Evangelista (St. John the Evangelist), Nuestra Señora de los Dolores (Our Lady of the Seven Dolours) plus the Nuestro Padre Jesus en el Huerto de los Olivos (Jesus in the Garden of Olives) carried by the now, world famous, 100-strong group of foreigners, better known as Los Costaleros!
Each year, a Marquee is set up behind Torrevieja’s Inmaculada Church, where all of the tronos (floats) are stored and at around ten o’clock on the first evening, the inaugural procession takes place. Andy noted that “One of the most impressive processions is held on Maundy Thursday, which is a solemn silent night in Torrevieja where the very silence itself seems to break the night’s air. This procession is held after the Mass of the Last Supper and announces the coming arrest, trial, suffering and death of Jesus.”
The main event is held on Good Friday, the longest procession which involves the participation of more than 2,500 people, including Los Costaleros. It starts early, around 7.00pm, well before the sun sets and has been known to finish close to midnight! On Saturday evening, the mood changes a little for the ‘Tambours’, when hundreds of youngsters beat their drums, announcing the death knell of Jesus. Andy finished by saying “The final procession is a joyous one on Easter Sunday at 8.00 am, the second Encuentro (encounter), when an image of the mourning Mary has her black veil removed as she meets her resurrected son in the person of the Eucharist.”
The Semana Santa processions are one of the most important cultural, religious and tourist events in Torrevieja, with tens of thousands descending on the city for Easter, specifically to attend the parades. Further information can be found on www.loscostaleros.com or visit them on Facebook.