On the whole, we may not be so religious these days but many of us still love to witness the elaborate trappings of the Church. Easter is approaching, and with it the most important date in the Christian calendar. Christmastime may celebrate the birth of Christ, but Holy Week remembers his resurrection, which is at the heart of Christian belief.
Given Easter's religious importance, over the centuries –and especially in a traditionally Catholic country– religious customs and rituals have developed that have survived until today, and first among them in Catalonia –and Spain in general– are the Easter processions.
I spent my first Easter here in Seville. Coming from a country with a largely Protestant tradition, which avoids the lavish pomp that distinguishes Catholic ritual, I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw people, hooded like KKK members, in shackled bare feet, carrying huge lit candles wandering down the street. (The accompanying picture shows a similar event in Girona last year). I watched fascinated, as if behind the scenes on the set of some movie being filmed about the Spanish Inquisition.
I am still not convinced by Christian doctrine and, apart from tourism, it has been years since I set foot inside a church. However, one thing I and many other unbelievers will concede: the Church certainly knows how to mount a spectacle!