This isn’t what you think it is:
There is a photo of me floating around where I’m standing in a crowd of people dressed just like this. They’re robed, hooded and carrying a cross. If it took place in America, I would be beaten up or dead.
But this isn’t America. This is Spain. And it’s a procession for Holy Week.
I’ve witnessed three processions like this in the village of Sineu, in the center of the island of Mallorca in the Balearic Sea off the east coast of Spain. Tonight, at dark, hundreds of people are going to gather for a procession that depicts the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The outfits, which come in different colors but have the same pointed hood and flowing gown, symbolize the people of Nazareth. The different colors of outfits represent different community organizations. I’ve seen red hoods on blue gowns. Outfits that are all black, yellow or white. I’ve taken a photo surrounded by red and blue cloaked worshipers who were members of the local Red Cross.
Men, women and children will form a parade that will stretch throughout the village. There will be floats with sequential imagery of the crucifixion and the resurrection. A man in the role of Christ will carry a cross.
The procession will pass through the town square in front of the church, then continue to the edge of the village. Residents will have their doors and windows open so people can see inside their houses. At the end, people will break their daylong fast and have a feast that will go well past midnight.
It’s odd. In Spain, the colors indicate the community services you perform for the benefit of your neighbors. In America, the colors symbolize a rank in the promotion of hatred. How did an outfit used by Roman Catholics in Spain for centuries to express their love of God, become bastardized by a bunch of dangerous lunatic Americans who target Catholics, blacks and Jews?
According to the Valencia (Spain) City Guide:
It is a very unfortunate confusion of the imagery. Some people are interested in how the KKK came to use these costumes, so we decided to write a word on that.
It appears that there is no connection whatsoever. The KKK were not in any way affiliated to the Nazareno tradition of Roman Catholic, which has used this costume for many centuries. The costume itself does not carry any message.
They chose it simply for the visual effect. Apart from having a Christian connotation and white colour symbolising white race, the costume makes a ghost-like figure and provides disguise, which is exactly how the KKK wanted to appear. It is possible that some of the more imaginative and intellectual members of the Klan (without pointing fingers), familiar with Easter celebrations in Spain, were inspired by the image this costume would create and suggested it to the Klan’s more moronic members.
The origins of the pointed hat in Spanish tradition are unknown, but the face is covered as a sign of mourning for the death of Christ.
On Easter Sunday the hats are taken off in the jubilation for the resurrection of Jesus.
I wish I could be in Sineu tonight, enjoying the Easter celebration with the villagers and joining in the feast at the end of the parade. If you ever see a photo of me amid a crowd of robed figures in pointed hoods, just know that I’m in Spain with the children of God, not in America with the scum of the Earth.
- Semana Santa – inspiration for my art (normsonline.wordpress.com)