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Who’s the best?

February 8, 2008 – 10:36 am

Lately I’ve been studying the way festivals are celebrated throughout Andalucia. It’s often interesting to see how one single festival is celebrated differently from one town or city to another.

To be honest, at first glance, all the carnivals looked alike to me, as did all the ferias or semana santas. But I’ve long known that locals don’t see it this way – people of each town or village believe they have their own, entirely unique take on the observance of each special day or festival.

This point really hit home when I was comparing holy week processions throughout our region. From the start, I was amazed at the amount of detailed information available in Spanish on the Internet even for small towns in the “middle of nowhere”. The passion for Semana Santa that I had always known existed (and had marvelled over in the local press every spring) took on new meaning as I realised just how dedicated some people are to each and every detail of their local processions.

The clincher for me though, has been that just about every description of Semana Santa (again, in Spanish) begins by informing the reader that the particular celebrations of the town or city in question is truly unique and THE BEST in Andalucia, THE MOST worth visiting and seeing.

I fell for this the first time I read it, especially because the processions in the town in question had been declared of “National Touristic Interest”.

“I’m on to something here,” I thought to myself, sure I’d found the Andalusian Semana Santa of all Semana Santas…

…Until I came to the next village with the same national stamp of approval, and the next and the next…

I’ve come to conclude that it is definitely worth getting to know the different expressions of Holy Week – and Carnival and the ferías and the San Juan celebrations and so many other curious festivals that take place in this region. However, it’s best to be prepared for the fact that everyone in every city, town and teeny, tiny village, is sure they have the best of the best.

What’s more, there are people working hard throughout the region to earn special stamps of approval that attract tourists. These stamps are probably well deserved, but that doesn’t always mean that one particular event is actually better than all the rest.

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