Easter is celebrated by many Catholics. In the Netherlands, it is celebrated too, but often it seems the focus has shifted towards the fun of looking for Easter eggs and decorating the dinner table for an Easter brunch.
It is a good excuse to brighten up your home with fragrant spring flowers. Modern times have caused this shift. Of course, eggs, bulbs and generally the spring flowers associated with the time around Easter symbolise the renewal of life, something very close to the original religious meaning of Easter. To understand how Easter is celebrated in a different country than our own, we asked one of Flower Factor's Spanish ambassadors to shine his light upon it. Alex Segura Arana explains how Easter is celebrated in Spain and what role flowers play.
Traditions and Santa Semana
Modern times have also come to bring change to the traditions of Easter. However, Spain is mainly a Catholic country and the religious traditions go back centuries. The week going into Easter is called the Holy week or Santa Semana and dates back to the year 1150. It is a time in which many daily processions take place to honour, remember and worship Jesus, Virgin Mary and the many patron saints. As the statues are carried around town during a procession, people come out to watch and sing to them showing their devotion. “Each statue belongs to a brotherhood or Hermandad who takes care of the adornment, maintenance and decoration of the religious statue used in the processions. Of course, these statues are wonderfully decorated with flowers.”
Across Spain, Easter is celebrated in different ways. From glamorous to sober, different cities know a different way of celebrating Easter. “Here in Barcelona, my birthplace, Easter is not being celebrated in the traditional way anymore. The Southern part of Spain is still very strict, so these processions with the floral beauty are organised widely. Seville is famous for its most traditional Santa Semana.”
photo credits: spain.info
Arrangements and choice of flowers
Flowers play an important part in the decoration of the statues. Often the plateau these religious depictions are carried on is filled with flowers, creating a carpet with one type of flower with only one colour. Most of the time, classic shapes are used for decorations, such as carpets or rounded-off rectangles, and the customary colours belonging to the statue. Jesus is usually adorned with red flowers as a symbol of blood but is often decorated with blue irises as well. Virgin Mary or Esperanza Macarena is shown with white, cream and sometimes soft pink flowers symbolising purity.
The classic choice of flowers often falls on roses and carnations, but Freesia is now also widely used. In the less traditional towns, other flowers are also used.
Unfortunately, tradition often doesn’t leave a lot of space for creative freedom, but the results and processions are beautiful nonetheless.
The modern way
In modern parts of the country, the traditional Santa Semana with its daily processions is celebrated by some people. Apart from the processions, there are no other traditions regarding Easter in Spain. “People in Spain normally don't decorate their home, especially for Easter. However, Easter coincides with the awakening of spring so it is normal to find all kind of bulbs in the flower shops and in people’s homes.”
Similarly to the Netherlands, the Easter period for non-religious people means they have some time off and they will plan trips. No matter how you celebrate it, it is a time in which all of us embrace life, light and the change of season.