Peraleda's Holy Week

Tourism Index

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Of all the festivals and traditions of Peraleda, one exceeds all the others: its Holy Week. We have cherished and preserved our peculiar traditions from the 17th century, and as a result, our Holy Week is now one of the most beautiful, original and interesting rural Easter festivities in Estremadura.

Our celebrations start on St Lazarus Sunday (the Sunday before Palm Sunday). On that day, the “chief brothers” as they are called, dressed in their peculiar Easter robes, walk around the streets of our village shouting “Who will give us an angel?”. Sooner or later two families will offer their little kid to play the part of an angel, and in due time they will both accompany Jesus in the two most intense moments of this celebration: his death and his resurrection.

Together with them, two teen girls, playing the part of the “magdalenes” (yes, we have two of them here) will also be present in both moments, but they accompany Mary, first as mourners, covered in black veils, and then in white robes as a sign of joy when they meet the risen Jesus.

No doubt, the highlight of our Holy Week is the Descent from the cross. A wooden image of Christ, life-sized and four centuries old, is unnailed and taken down to his broken mother, who bids him her last goodbye while the magdalenes anoint him. Then he is put into a glass coffin and taken in solemn procession to his burial place. The realism of the scene, together with the atmosphere created by trumpets and drums, will leave no one unmoved.

Among all the other processions, the second best, no doubt, is “The Encounter”, on Easter Sunday, right at the break of day. While Good Friday was all mourning, silence and martial solemnity, this other procession is just the opposite. Mirroring the events of the first Easter Sunday, this day is filled with emotion, joy, celebration, hubbub and complete chaos.

The moment when the images of Jesus and Mary, coming from opposite directions, “see each other” in the long square of El Cristo, is breath-taking. Both images start to run to meet, but every time the trumpets sound, for three times, runners, as indeed everybody else, fall down to their knees and people can’t help but wonder if this year one of the images will end up crashing against the ground, so precarious their situation is. Finally, they both kneel down inches from each other while in between, the angels ring their many bells and the magdalenes kneel down, arms outstretched, throwing away their black veils at the same time to pray the risen Jesus dressed in white, in the middle of singing, music and all the noise you expect to find at a party.

Now everybody, locals and visitors alike, will accompany the images to church, and after mass, they walk the main “actors” home, including angels and magdalenes. Every time they get to a house, a big feast is delivered around: coffee, sodas, sangria, typical cakes and sweets of different kinds… Everybody will drink and eat until they can’t no more, and even then, they will be coaxed to eat and drink a bit more.

Visitors coming to Peraleda’s Holy Week will realise that our Holy Week is not simply something to look at, it is something to live from the inside, an opportunity to get soaked with faith, sorrow and joy, and be a part of this ancient tradition. If you come, be prepared to be not a spectator, but a part of this.





Escrito por Angel Castaño

With thanks to Alex Rufo for his photos, which are (in order of appearance): 1, 4, 8, 9, 10, 14, 16 y17 and to Víctor Díez for his general view of the church inside (Nº 6)

Apóyanos con tu firma para salvar el Dolmen de Guadalperal y también para salvar el retablo esgrafiado de Peraleda.

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