The mystery and power of Malagueño Easter processions

By Paloma Fernández Durán

La Esperanza trono, carried on the shoulders of the admiring throng.

La Esperanza trono, carried on the shoulders of the admiring throng.

If you’re interested in seeing Semana Santa at its most intense, seek no further than Málaga: many Malagueños count the days until Semana Santa throughout the year, letting the anticipation build through the fall and winter. As the date approaches, families start to bake torrijas (a sweet made of bread, milk, sugar and cinnamon whose recipe you can find on this website), and young and old go to their Casa Hermandad (a kind of community center for the various “brotherhood” groups that are charged with caring for the statues of saints) to prepare for the processions.

 

A close up view of the El Cautivo trono by day.

A close up view of the El Cautivo trono by day.

Tunics and candles are passed out, platforms are located and reserved around the whole town– everything is a flurry of activity, getting ready for an amazing week of pasos (or “tronos”, as they call them in Málaga.) Every Malagueño has his or her favorite procession, and each one of these carries with it many legends and years of history. They are known for different reasons: “La Esperanza” has the biggest Virgin Mary trono of the city. “El Cautivo” is followed by thousands of faithful from dusk to dawn. “Mena” is taken out to the street by the legionnaires, and “Los Estudiantes” by students from the University. The trono from the “Lagrimas y favores” brotherhood is headed by the famous actor Antonio Banderas, an enthusiastic fan of Semana Santa who returns each year to his hometown to recall his roots and enjoy the tradition.

The processions dance through the streets every day of Easter week: at almost any hour you can find one if you look hard enough. But it’s especially at night that they look the most stunning and magnificent. When all the lights go down, the whole city watches together in stillness. Thousands of candles light up the figures, reflecting in the silver and gold of the tronos, and the silence is only broken with the sound of the drums and cornets, or when from any balcony a spontaneous saeta flamenco verse is heard.

 

Penitents from the Nazareno brotherhood waiting for La Esperanza trono.

Penitents from the Nazareno brotherhood waiting for La Esperanza trono.

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