Semana Santa (Holy Week) is a seriously big event in Spain. The processions of the hooded penitents in Sevilla and other Spanish cities are spectacular celebrations of faith.
Here in Villajoyosa (known locally as La Vila Joiosa, or La Vila for short), they’re obviously not quite on the same scale, but there are usually processions in the town every evening in Easter week. Or there were, until the Covid-19 pandemic struck and ruined two sets of Easter celebrations in 2020 and 2021.
In a normal year, each procession is organised by a different “cofradia” or brotherhood. They start from various churches around La Vila Joiosa (as Villajoyosa is known in the local Valenciano language) and finish at the Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción in the Plaza de la Iglesia in the heart of the old town.
The cofradía members wear long robes and many also wear the pointed hoods, known as capirotes, a symbol of repentance.
Perhaps the most atmospheric procession is around the narrow streets of the old town (above). There is something almost hypnotic about the rhythmic swaying of the Virgen carried on the shoulders of the costaleros, accompanied by the mournful notes of the band slow marching behind. The procession halts at a series of altars around the old town, with an acapella hymn and a prayer at each one.
Below is the Easter Sunday procession, with the veiled image of the “Mare de Deu” (Mother of God in Valenciano) taken from the church of Nuestra Señora through the centre of La Vila – although the weather was so bad during the Easter storms of 2019, the procession had to be cancelled.
Until recently, Spain didn’t really do Easter Eggs. It wasn’t a Spanish tradition – not even in a town with three chocolate factories. Now though, Valor sells them and you can also buy them in local supermarkets.
Try also a Mona de Pascua pastry. The one pictured below has a Kinder egg, though a hard boiled egg is more traditional.
Try also torrijas, the Spanish version of eggy bread, traditional at Easter. They are basically bread dipped in beaten eggs and then fried. The torrijas below also have a layer of crema catalana on top for good measure!
More fiestas in Villajoyosa
- La Vila’s big party – Moros y Cristianos fiesta
- Fiesta de las Lagrimas de Santa Marta – the tears of Santa Marta
© Guy Pelham