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Saturday, March 31, 2007

2007 Easter in Tenerife

Reenactment of the Crucifiction in Adeje

With tomorrow being Domingo de Ramos (Palm Sunday), we start Semana Santa (Holy Week) and Easter Celebrations proper in Tenerife. There have been processions from last Friday, March 30, known as Viernes de Dolores and before, but the main events are on Jueves y Viernes Santo (Maunday Thursday and Good Friday, April 5th and 6th).

Whist most towns and villages have their own Easter processions, the main ones on the island are in La Laguna, La Orotava and Puerto de la Cruz.

Vía Crucis reenactment in Adeje

However, for my money, the very best of the Easter events to see in Tenerife is the Vía Crucis in Adeje. This is held on Good Friday from 12:00 midday (which still gives you time to go to some of the other processions elsewhere in the evening), in the open air, in and around the main street in the town of Adeje.

Vía Crucis is a reenactment of the most relevant scenes from the last hours of the life of Jesus Christ. More than 300 amateur actors take part and, as a mark of how important this has become, the two hour event is transmitted live on TVCanaria. Do not misunderstand the word amateur. In this case, it merely refers to the fact that actors are not being paid to partake - well, for this, you wouldn't expect them to be - because the performances are first rate, with operatic singing, superb costumes and realistic attention to detail, including an almost alarmingly convincing crucifixion!

Personally, I think some of the Roman soldiers cracking the whips might have been getting a little too enthusiastically into character, but I'm sure it is only red dye that provides the "blood stains". Various buildings, such as the town hall, take on new roles too, though we couldn't help but find a little amusement in the appearance of white lines for parking spaces painted near the bases of Biblical scenery.

Easter processions

Festivals of a religious nature involving worship and processions take place. They are held in various districts all over the island, but some which deserve a special mention are: Santa Cruz, Puerto de la Cruz, La Orotava, Los Realejos, Icod, Garachico, Arona, Adeje and in particular the ones in the city of San Cristóbal de La Laguna.

The processions in La Laguna, with the Magna procession on Viernes Santo (Friday 6th April), starting at 17:00hrs from the Holy church of Nuestra Señora de la Concepción, followed at 21:30hrs by the Silent procession, where all the city brotherhoods go with the Santísimo Cristo Difunto to the parish of Santo Domingo de Guzmán, and then every one of them return in silence to its corresponding church.

Cofradías - Brotherhoods

The most notable thing about these Easter processions is the Cofradías or Brotherhoods who dress in the Ku Klux Klan like garb with pointy hats. This is actually a throwback to the Inquisition, to hide the identity of an accuser. (In those days, probably not a bad idea, when the accusation was an unprovable offence, such as witchcraft, I guess.) These brotherhoods are associations of faithful catholics who unite in devotion to a particular advocation of Christ, the Virgin or a particular Saint. Most of these Cofradías were formed in the 16th Century, at least as we know them today, as religious associations that make processions during Holy Week.

Traditional Food For Easter

Other than the tradition remaining in many households to eat fish on Good Friday, there don't seem to be any traditions for particular foodstuffs for Easter in Spain and the Canary Islands. What, no Easter Eggs? No, they were not a tradition here, until very recently. Imported ones have been creeping into shops in areas with expat communities.