Last night – Good Friday, the main Easter procession took place in Benidorm – and it appeared as if the entire population came out to line the streets. The resort is exceptionally busy, with many domestic tourists from Madrid flocking here for the long weekend break.
The parade started at the San Jaime church at the top of the Old Town, winding its way down the tiny cobbled street, carrying the magnificent “Pasos” - extremely heavy floats with sculptures depicting the Sorrows of the Virgin Mary. You could see and hear them coming, with spontaneous applause breaking out along the route.
All of the brotherhoods from various churches across the whole of Benidorm took part – each in different colour cloaks preceding their floats. Many holidaymakers are startled when they see the costumes, consisting of a tunic and conical hood to mask their faces.
However, these go back to medieval times, enabling the wearer to repent for their sins and seek forgiveness from God while masking their identity from all others. Marching bands accompanied each of the floats, adding to the occasion.
For the principal white one I counted 20 on each side plus 6 down the middle sections, making a total of 52 to carry it. They had a rhythm, swaying from side to side and guiding them was man with a hand bell, which he rang to direct them. At intervals he signaled for them to stop and rest, then rang the bell for them to re-start.
In front of this particularly tall one a man walked ahead with a long metal pole and hook on the end, to lift the cables going across the road so as not the catch when the effigy went underneath.
It was very arousing and emotional to watch and is a tradition here in Spain that has been going – and no doubt will continue for many many years. There is no worry of upsetting other religions here like in the UK - they are not politically correct here... quite right too.