Maritime Holy Week traditionally takes place in one of the most emblematic districts of the city of Valencia, El Maritim. It is a unique Mediterranean festivity in the context of Holy Week in Spain.
According to tradition, Maritime Holy Week arose in the 15th century when a group, of which St Vincent Ferrer was prior, arose under the name of “Concordia dels disciplinants”, although there is no documentary evidence.
Certainly it has no processional floats like those of the Holy Week in Andalusia or Castile, and it does not have such widespread renown, except for the image of Veronica by Mariano Benlliure. However, its ceremonies and celebrations make it quite unique.
On the one hand, besides the overall programme of events, there is one day set aside for each brotherhood to walk in procession with their image, which is moved to the home of the member whose name has been drawn. It is traditional in Valencia for the image to be venerated in the selected member’s house, and so it is decorated with great care.
It is also a characteristic in this celebration to have the sculpted images together with neighbours dressed as Pontius Pilate, Herod, Salome, the Virgin… walking in procession with the bells tolling and under the traditional music. Many of these biblical characters have been recovered from the old Corpus Christi procession.
Actually, the most striking aspect tends to be their complicated hair styles! Another peculiar tradition is the “trencà perols”, at midnight on Easter Saturday, people throw old pots and tableware and water from their windows and balconies, in stark contrast with traditional Catholic Easter liturgies.
But the main event in Maritime Holy Week is the SACRED BURIAL, a procession incorporating all the corporations and brotherhoods with their floats and images, ordered chronologically according to the passion of Christ.
This celebration, which was originated with just a few fishermen and sailors, has reached us with all the Mediterranean charisma and typical style of the area. There is less drama. They are more parades rather than processions.