centennial rituals (and rhythms) in the capital of Aragon

photographs and words by Massimo Pacifico

The celebrations of Holy Week in Zaragoza, the capital of Aragon, northeastern Spain, begin on the Saturday before Palm Sunday, with the procession of the Pregon. It’s the first of 53 solemn ones, foreseen in the full program staged, every year, by 24 local brotherhoods. Almost all the brothers (and sisters) of the fraternities dress in a high conical hat that hides their face, and a tunic of the same colour that distinguishes the different congregations. During the processions, that are virtually non-stop, the hooded devoted and faithful parade carrying floats adorned with flowers and statues of Jesus and Mary, through the ancient streets of the historic center, that recall the highlights of the passion, death, and, on Easter Sunday, the resurrection of Christ. Many women wear mourning robes and precious mantillas. The pace of the procession is given by the brass bands, and, above all, by drums and bass drums that are incessantly stimulated. The ritual with the most participants is the one on Good Friday,  the Entierro (the Holy Burial) which holds, in Spain, the record in terms of attendance: 3500 are only those who beat the drums. In 2013, the year when the photos of this service were taken, this procession did not take place because of bad weather and persistent rain.

On Easter Sunday the final festive ritual takes place in the square of the Basilica of Our Lady of Pilar, which recreates Mary’s meeting with her resurrected son. This is all followed by profane dances of Aragon’s country dancing tradition.




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