THE EASTER EXPERIENCE OF THE SOLLER VALLEY
Easter week, Semana Santa or Pascua as it is known is a very important time in Soller. The town divides up into Fraternities – groups of people attached to a local church who have an affinity to a particular group of penitents.
The penitents dress in the robes of their particular fraternity which includes pointed hats reminiscent of the Ku Klux Klan with eye holes cut out and the rest of the face covered. The point of this costume is to show your allegiance to your group and make your ‘penance’ in private by covering your face. here are twelve fraternities in Soller led by the ‘Confraria de Natzaret’ with other group names including Sant Josep Obrer, Santiago, Esperanca, Sagrat Cor to name a few. They all have similar robes but there will be a particular flash of colour or embroidery to denote their identity.
There are daily church services in the churches of the Soller valley namely Port de Soller, L’Horta, Es Convent in Soller, Fornalutx and Deia starting on the Sunday before Easter and finishing on Easter Sunday. The timetable is posted outside each church and is also available from the tourist information office. This is the churches busy season and they are guaranteed a full house for many of their services. There is something about the solemnity and tradition of Semana Santa that sucks you in and makes you think
On Thursday – Dijous Sant (Maundy Thursday, April 2nd 2015) at 21.30 the most solemn and silent procession takes place. The penitents carrying the religious figures slowly walk around the centre of Soller. They walk the narrow streets between the convent and the town centre. This is known as the Procession of Blood and it is the only time that our town is quiet. The marchers are silent and all the crowds who have come to take part stand silently as the parade passes by. The only sound is that of the mournful drums of the town band as they bring up the rear.
On Good Friday (April 3rd 2015) there are services in all the churches and a solemn procession of the penitents starting at 20.30. This march is around the centre of town in front of the main St Bartomeu church.
On Easter Saturday (April 4th 2015) the march of the penitents starts at 19.45 and it heads out of the square up past the cemetery and up the mountain to Cami de Ses tres Creus – the site of the three crosses memorial ending with a service in St Bartomeu church at 22.00h.
On Easter Sunday (April 5th 2015) at 9.30 am in the main square in front of St Bartomeu church the Easter Parade celebrating the resurrection takes place. This is altogether a happier affair and the town band celebrates with more than a drum! After all the agonising it is time for celebration and family gatherings and eating lots of local specialities. The lamb pies and the sweet pastries stuffed with custard fill the bakers shops and are eaten as picnics on the beaches. All that soul searching is hungry work and a little light relief is called for!
The experience of Semana Santa is worth having – I had never seen anything like it before I came to live here and to start with I found it macabre. As time has past I have come to understand what the people are doing and I respect them. If you are visiting this Easter do come and see what I mean – you will never forget it.