Spain has a reputation (and not totally undeserved), for being a very noisy country. We talk loud, laugh loud, and usually accompany our festivities with loud music (did you read the post about Fallas?).
But Holy Week celebrations are totally different. Though most Spanish festivities are related to Catholic religión (Fallas allegedly celebrate to honor St. Joseph, San Fermines to honor St. Fermin…) one usually gets the feeling that the religious celebration is little more than a pretext for the riotous festivities in question; well, that does not apply to Holy Week.
The Holy Week in Spain has a depth of feeling, of respect and reverence, that no other celebration shares. When the processions of brothers, dressed in robes and hoods, follow the heavy floats of sculptures that represent biblical scenes- floats that are carried with tremendous effort by some volunteer brothers, that consider it an honor- accompanied by the rhythmic beating of the drums, the emotion in the atmosphere is overwhelming, to the point that it affects even those who are not religious or who do not share the Catholic faith.
The most glamorous and flamboyant celebrations of the Holy Week are those of Andalusia. The pomp of the floats, the incredible ambiance, and the religious fervor of Malaga and Seville are difficult to match.
Holy Week in Castile-Leon is quite different, more austere and sombre, with a depth of feeling expressed in the daunting silence only broken by the sound of drums and trumpets or of Gregorian chants. The Holy Week of Zamora claims to be the oldest in Spain, with its earliest documented references dating back to the 13th century. The haunting beauty of its night processions, with the darkness lit by the torches carried by the hooded brothers can only compete with the amazing artistic value of its centuries old floats and statues.