Last week was, putting it mildly in this overwhelmingly declared Catholic country, a big deal. Many people had the entire week off, and almost all had Friday-Sunday off. Like with most holidays, hotels increase prices, and the only stores that appear to be open during the day are candy stores maintaining a brisk business. (Bakeries are also doing very well as every family picks up a couple traditional cakes, but their hours seem to be restricted to mornings.)

So what is there to do besides sitting around eating sweets? Well, not much really. Mostly people are visiting friends and family and hanging out in the streets. Each day there was a procession (more below), sermons, conducting certain rituals, and potential music. All of these start or happen at the various churches around town. And it all culminates on Easter Sunday with the biggest procession.

I’ve seen processions in South America, where a group of people walk around with a drum and a huge depiction of something (usually gory) on their shoulders. They didn’t impress me much, but I was curious what would happen in Spain. Full disclosure: I used to be quite a fan of parades in the US, but when they stopped throwing candy (for “safety” reasons) I never quite got over it.

So here are a couple pics (taken in a dark cathedral or outside in the weather).

Getting ready to leave the church…

And those women on the right side are wives of important people of the church/town who follow behind the people carrying Mary.

Los niños carrying the implements…

The biggest Easter procession (different town from the other 2 pics)

My guidebooks says that the KKK “borrowed their look from the hoods worn by the brotherhoods during the processions of Semana Santa. However, I couldn’t find solid evidence supporting this, despite the eerie similarity.

The only thing about the procession I enjoyed were the instruments: drums, trumpets, and bagpipes (this last one is only in the parts of the country with Celtic traditions),

Fun trivia

Most common outdoor toy for children in Pontevedra, Spain? Over 60% of children polled were playing with…an umbrella. It rains (or mists) so often and so unpredictably (minimum of 30 minutes to go from blue skies to rain) that every family carries a couple around with them. Don’t feel bad if you didn’t know that one.

The second most popular outdoor toy of children (and probably the most common across all of Spain)? Put your guess in the comments! (Seriously, you should know this one.)