Basic vocabulary for Holy Week in Andalusia

Holy Week

In Andalusia, Holy Week, or Semana Santa, is a celebration that practically transforms villages and cities. Processions of beautifully adorned floats with Jesus and Mary statues. As well as,  groups of Nazarenos (penitents) wearing conical hoods, and strident brass bands move slowly through the streets. Also, they go from their parish church to the cathedral and back. 

It’s an incredible experience. And now is an excellent time to visit Andalusia if you want to learn about some firmly held traditions. Besides, they  have less to do with religion and more to do with social groupings and rituals. Many people avoid visiting Andalusia at this time of year. However, it is worth the effort if you come prepared for the crowds. It is nothing like you ever seen before.

From Palm Sunday (the Sunday before Easter Sunday) until Easter Friday and Easter Saturday, the majority of the processions take place. On Easter Sunday, there are extremely few processions and none on Easter Monday.

In this post we will teach you the basics for understanding holy week in Andalusia!!

Holy Week
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Basic vocabulary

Cofradías – Catholic groups dedicated to religious training, worship and charity that focus on penitence and show their penitence publicly during Semana Santa processions as they carry floats through the streets.

Saeta – A serenade sung by a person (usually on a balcony) to the Virgin Mary. The paso is set down during the singing.


Procesión – Procession or parade organized by brotherhood.

Nazareno – Member of the brotherhood dressing in a robe, cone shaped hood -to hide his or her identity, and a cape. Colors of robes and hoods depend on the brotherhoods. 

Holy Week
📷 Diario de sevilla


Madruga – The night of Holy Thursday, when the most popular processions set out to arrive at the Cathedral on the dawn of Good Friday. It’s the climax of the Holy Week.


Cruz de guia – Cross carried at the front of the procesion who leads the nazarenos, the pasos and the music band (if there is one).

Costalero – Person (mostly men due to the physical strength required) who carries the paso. They usually wear a faja and a costal (a piece of fabric that looks like a turban).

Holy Week
📷 Wikipedia

Paso – From the latin passus (meaning scene but also suffering). Float with Christ and other sculptures representing scenes of the Bible, or with the Virgin Mary. It’s the wooden structure and costaleros carry it.    

Imagen – life size representations of Jesús and Mary that are paraded through the streets.

If you want to know more about Holy week, don’t forget to contact us at or on our website. We will be happy to arrange a tailor-made trip for you!!

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