Sensing Semana Santa: Holy Week in Southern Spain, Jerez de la Frontera (Photo Feature)

“In the south, we need to touch” – this is how the Spanish tradition of Semana Santa was explained to me by Manuel, council representative of Defensión brotherhood, a religious association which for over fifty years has participated in the Holy Week processions of Jerez de la Frontera, Spain. Commemorating the final days of Christ, the Semana Santa is an assault on your eyes and ears, and a jig-saw puzzle for your head. Continue reading “Sensing Semana Santa: Holy Week in Southern Spain, Jerez de la Frontera (Photo Feature)”

Festival of the…Sea Urchin! – Photo Report on Cadiz’s ‘Erizada’

Of all countries on earth, Spain, perhaps, is that which has the most festivals and fiestas per capita. An exhaustive list of its festivals would run into the hundreds,  possibly thousands, though there always seems to pop up another one which you hadn’t yet heard of. Springing forth from the community itself, with few rules and regulations, little respect for traffic flow, and a socially diverse crowd of old and young, these parties are truly organic, civic celebrations. Continue reading “Festival of the…Sea Urchin! – Photo Report on Cadiz’s ‘Erizada’”

A Spanish Epiphany: Gorilla Culo, Inflatable Snake and Adults Turning into Children (Photo Story)

Christmas in Spain is celebrated twice per year; first on Christmas Eve, and then again on Reyes – Three Kings Day, or the Epiphany – when children traditionally receive gifts delivered to them from bearded sorcerers of the Far East. Reyes Eve is celebrated throughout Spain with a Cabalgata de Reyes, a parade in which sweets are tossed by the kings’ retinues atop floats onto the onlookers below. It is said that Reyes is a children’s event, but at a Reyes parade adults briefly turn into children again. Continue reading “A Spanish Epiphany: Gorilla Culo, Inflatable Snake and Adults Turning into Children (Photo Story)”

Photo Essay: A Living Nativity Scene in Arcos de la Frontera

Every year in Arcos de la Frontera, a small but spectacular hilltop village in Spain’s south, the local people create what they call Belen Viviente, a living nativity scene or living Bethlehem. Visitors walking through the streets and plazas see bakers, iron-smiths, weavers and farmers working and living as if it were a typically brisk December’s night in Palestine some 2016 years ago. 2016 years on, millions of Marys and Josephs continue seeking room at the inn, still to no avail. Continue reading “Photo Essay: A Living Nativity Scene in Arcos de la Frontera”

Leonard Cohen (1934-2016): A Sufi Maestro

In the golden age of the Persian Empire there was a community of thinkers, Sufis they were called, whose poetry and song celebrating wine, love and spiritualism had them demonised by the pious as heretics, debauchees and drunks. Their Holy Trinity was their lord, love, and leisure, and for them the three could not be separated: if God was love, then love was god, in all its amorous array. Continue reading “Leonard Cohen (1934-2016): A Sufi Maestro”

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