Monday, April 10, 2006

There is No Foot Kissing

That, roughly translated, is the note attached in boldface capital letters to the Good Friday procession schedule issued by the Archdiocese of Madrid: NO HAY BESAPIES. Semana Santa has its serious side (see below), but there are also, at least to this outsider, some thoroughly comic moments. The image of anyone attempting to prevent hordes of se~noras from kissing the feet of a Jesus statue is just one of them.

My first introduction to Semana Santa came, properly, in Andalusia, home to all forms of religious excess. There, I experienced the peculiar shock that Americans feel when they first witness the cofrades in their modified KKK garb. I giggled as the crowds shouted piropos at passing statues of the Virgin: ay, que guapa estas!. And, I have to admit, I felt something strange and mysterious at night, when drums fill the air, the streets glow with candlelight, and a single voice pierced the dark with a saeta.

In Madrid, Semana Santa is somewhat different. A couple of years ago, my parents and I caught one procession in which the cofrades wore not the ordinary robes and pointed hoods, but some kind of 18th-century military garb. It was the strangest thing: there were the drums, the candles, the same ladies in their mantillas, and in the middle, a bunch of guys dressed up like Paul Revere. It lacked, shall we say, something of the spooky mystery you get in a place like Cordoba or Sevilla. But then, I doubt that those cities prohibit foot kissing either.


No comments: