Easter Holy Week Ontinyent Semana Santa
Easter Holy Week Ontinyent Semana Santa
The first Sunday after the first full moon of spring is when Floral Easter is celebrated and the days preceding this are known as Setmana Santa (Holy Week) and in Ontinyent there are solemn processions throughout the week which date back to at least the 15th century. All the acts during this week are regulated by a traditional brotherhood.
There is a complex programme of events and in recent years this festivity has become more locally influenced due to the recuperation of several customs peculiar to Ontinyent.
There are currently nine brotherhoods in Ontinyent, some of which can trace their origins back to the original Masonic lodges, for example L’Oració de l’Hort, Jesús a la columna i assotat pels botxins, l’Ecce Homo, La Santa Faç, el Nostre Pare Jesús Natzarét, la Dolorosa, el Crist de l’Expiració, Nostra Senyora del Patrocini, el Sant Sepulcre and la Soledat. Amongst the figures which are paraded during the processions, two are of special interest. The Birth of Christ from 1943 and the Image of Lonliness from 1944, both of which are the work of Marià Benlliure.
The events start with the presentation of the programme and continue with the procession of the sixth station through the streets of Sant Rafael. On Thursday there is a silent procession through the streets of the Vila. The participants are masked and hold candles and are accompanied by characters from the Bible.
On Friday morning, various processions converge on the Plaza Mayor and at midday there is a reenactment of the meeting between the “El Nazareno and La Dolorosa” and in the afternoon there is a procession to commemorate the holy burial and sweets are given out to the public.
On Saturday night, after supper, the faithful go to the Plaza de la Vila where they burn their images of the Quaresma and parade through the streets of the Vila to the sound of pipes and drums and bang metal objects together.
These are later left at the doors of the town hall and the traditional song of the resurrection is sung. (The second half of which was originally sung by children, but this tradition has now been lost).
On Easter Sunday, 2006 a lost tradition was recovered when the reenactment of the meeting between the lamb of Jesus and the mother of God was celebrated outside the town hall. Afterwards there was a firework display.
One of the most interesting facts in Holy Week is the use of traditional costumes called “Ròssegues” which were originally used by jurors during the Barroque period. These have trains measuring up to three metres, although sadly most of the more colourful ones have today disappeared.
More fascinating Ontinyent traditions
Other festivals related to Holy Week and particular to Ontinyent are celebrated by certain schools in the area. Crosses of eggs are made and decorated with plants, coloured ribbons and other elements. “Maios”, which are vegetables grown in complete darkness, are used to adorn the altars on the Saturday as they possess an unearthly, almost ghostly pure whiteness.
Another event worth mentioning is the “Dejuni de les Campanes” (Breakfast of the Bells). The bells from the bell tower in the Vila stop ringing after mass on Thursday and are’t rung again until Glory on Saturday as a sign of pain. The bell ringers tie black ribbons to the bell ropes and throw them from the tower. This tradition has now been reinstated and has spread to all the towers in the city.
On Easter Sunday it is traditional to eat together with friends or family. A typical Easter treat is “mona” which is similar to hot cross buns and is eaten with chocolate or local sausage.
On Sunday after Easter on the day before Saint Vincent there is a procession around the town to give communion to the sick.
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