Hi from Rick: The Rich Weight of Tradition
|Sevilla's Holy Week traditions aren't designed for travelers — but they deliver rich, perspective-broadening travel moments.|
I love sorting through travel memories in the off-season as I plan my next trip. A strong theme is the power and pride of distinct local cultures, and how easy it is for travelers to experience them.
Today I'm remembering Holy Week in Sevilla, where I kicked off my 2009 travels. On Good Friday, I joined the crowds lining the procession route. Masked paraders were shuffling past us, armed with Crusader swords and wearing purple-and-white (almost Klan-style) cone hats. Each one carries a four-foot-long candle. Like American kids scrambling for candies at a parade, Spanish kids collect dripping wax from the ceremonial candles, attempting to amass the biggest wax ball on a stick for their 2009 Easter souvenir.
It reminds me that even in today's fast-paced, secular Europe, the richest traditions run strong. On that night, it feels like half of Sevilla's population fills the streets.
As the procession squeezes down narrow alleys, legions of drums crack eardrums in the confined space. The local press jostles with tourists for the best photos. Tots ride wide-eyed above the throngs on paternal shoulders. And finally, the real focus of the parade, a special sort of parade float, rumbles slowly by: gilded, candlelit, and nearly crushing bystanders against rustic ancient walls. Parade officials — like holy bodyguards — make sure its progress is unimpeded. I look up, and high in the sky is what Good Friday is all about: an extremely Baroque Jesus lurching forward under the weight of that cruel cross, symbolically climbing to his crucifixion.
Later, back at my hotel, it occurred to me that the float floated not on wheels — but on school boys. Unseen and unheralded, bent under all that tradition, a team of boys was trudging for hours through the throngs.
All over Europe, in every season, there are vivid cultural moments that can become apart of each of our live experiences. In this month's Travel News we'll bring you one step closer to your next European adventure with tip-filled articles, plus our latest Travel Tale and video clip. Thanks for joining us.