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Spain is noted for its numerous festivals that occur throughout the year - however one of the most famous and memorable is the celebration of Holy Week or Semana Santa. The religious traditions that dominate the culture of Spain are never more evident than during the week of Semana Santa when there are thousands of processions throughout Spain.

The Statue of Esperanza - complete with tears - in Triana

The Statue of Esperanza - complete with tears - in Triana


Sevilla is known as the *cradle* of these processions and is by far the most spectacular example of Holy Week in Spain.

The history of the present day traditions of Holy Week in Sevilla has its origins as early as 1248 when King Fernando III reclaimed Sevilla from the Moors. Hermandades had been formed during the reconquest to rescue injured soldiers from the battlefields and to bury the dead.

The Hermandades were organized according to the professions and jobs of the times. As the years passed and the Catholic Church reestablished its dominance throughout Spain - Seville's organized brotherhoods of Catholic believers also grew. By the 16th century - Sevilla had established the tradition of processions to symbolize the journey of Christ to Calvary.

Semana Santa in Sevilla is arranged into eight days of processions beginning with Palm Sunday and going through Easter Sunday. Two separate schedules are observed for Good Friday - one beginning at dawn and the other later in the afternoon. Sevilla has a total of 52 Hermandades that take to the streets in an organized procession called a cofradia.

La Virgen de San Bernardo - A Paso Virgen

La Virgen de San Bernardo - A Paso Virgen

The cofradia begins with the Cruz de Gula and is followed by two rows of nazarenos carrying candles, banners, the book containing the rules by which the hermandad is governed and various religious relics of the church. These members of the confraternity precede two pasos or floats, one representing a scene from the Passion of Christ, and one representing the Sorrow of the Virgin Mary.

A Paso Virgen weighs about 15qp kilos and a Paso Cristo weighs about 2000 kilos. Many members often are the carriers of the floats themselves but professional costaleros are also used. A marching band, consisting primarily of trumpets and drums, follows playing the traditional processional music.

 Youth orchestra in Seville

The images on the floats are mostly carved in wood by the great 17th-century Andalusian religious sculptors. Crowds line the streets and plazas as the cofradias pass by-some jovially - handing candies out to children - others in complete silence reminding us of the significance of their journey. They make their way from their home church to the Carrera Official. The route from the Plaza de la Campana along the infamous tiled street - Calle Sierpes - by the Town Hall and finally passing the rough the immense Gothic cathedral to return home.

As a procession enters its church after the long symbolic journey, a hush falls over the crowd as a lone man on a balcony sings an emotional saeta. In a throng of thousands one can hear a coin drop as tired costaleros sometimes scoot on their knees to carry enormous floats through small doors and to their resting place until the next year.

It is customary to wear new clothes on Palm Sunday. On El Jueves y El Viemes Some women dress in the traje de mantilla, all in black, representing the state of mourning begun by Christ's death on Good Friday. Carnations are the traditional flowers used to decorate the floats. The favorite pastries for Semana Santa are torrijas and pestihos.

Semana Santa in Sevilla is an experience that one will never forget. Even for the non Christian, it is a sobering experience that draws us all to reflect on our own culture and the history of humanity. Amazingly, eight days pass with almost no sleep. A city of over a million people united with their past and reaffirm their present. Amidst the confusing smells of orange trees in bloom, incense in the air, melted wax caked on the streets, and with the resounding beat of drum in the distance, one can begin to understand what it means to be "Sevillano".

Feria de Abril

All but different is the Feria de Abril, the Flamenco event in the land - taking place two weeks later

Originally it was just a cattle-market, but through the years it turned out to be one of the greatest popular festivities in Spain.You will have the opportunity to see the typical flamenco dresses, which almost all women (never mind their age) wear.

Innumerable casetas, provisional houses, are built on the terrain and decorated with colorful lamps. In the morning the landowners arrive on horses or in horse-coaches. In the afternoon starts a great party of Flamenco and sherry-wine in each Caseta that will continue all night long. This is repeated day by day during an entire week. During this same week are the most important bullfights in town.

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Luna y Bombé

Little Luna The Little Bombe Cat

When visitors call on us - Luna discreetly disappears. Bombé, however, will want - better said - will demand your attention.

Her usual trick is to quietly sneak behind you and start to pat you on the head. She thinks this is a way to show her affection. Most visitors laugh yet some are uncomfortable with this - especially because - Bombé does not stop.

This could last the entire visit.

Well, when in Madrid and if you decide to call on us - please let us know ahead whether we should lock Bombé into another room.

We wonder if any of you have similar experiences with a rebellious pet - we would greatly appreciate receiving advise about this matter.

Sometimes we are so pleased to have given Bombé a home - yet other times ... well - we think about - putting ourselves up for adoption.

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Our Favorite Recipes (and Restaurants)

tapas bars

As you know - Madrileños rarely lunch before two - and often have dinner after 11pm on hot summer nights, although 9 - 10 pm is more usual at other times. You will find it hard to order a full meal in a restaurant before 8.30 pm (tapas bars serve food at other times).

Also - despite growing flexibility in opening times - there are still relatively few city restaurants open on Sunday evenings, and some places still close for all or part of August. Madrid eats differently for lunch and dinner. Fewer and fewer Madrileños go home for lunch, but many still expect home-style cooking for their midday meal, not just a sandwich on the hop.

Restaurants and bars meet this demand with "menú del día" - two or three course set lunches, for around 6 - 12 Euros, with a choice of dishes for each course. In the evenings set-price menus are less common (although they are becoming more widely available), prices are usually higher - and people tend to pick and choose more.

Good menús are exceptional bargains - and if you want to eat inexpensively and well - lunch is the time to do it. Even many gourmet restaurants offer set-meal formulas, which make it possible to sample their creations for much less than their à la carte prices might suggest.


Spanish Nouveau Cuisine

More about Zalacain and the recipe for >
Red Mullets With Vegetables In Vinaigrette

Under master chef Benjamín Urdaín and proprietor Jesús María Oyarbide - Zalacaín has been the première restaurant in Madrid for the last two decades - and the only one with three Michelin stars. The setting is seamlessly luxurious - the seasonal - Basque-based cooking is superb, and the wine list offers an exceptional selection of fine Spanish vintages. Prices can be controlled just a little with the set gourmet menu of five courses plus dessert. The only drawback could be the strict jacket-and-tie dress code.

One of Europe*s finest restaurants - Zalacaín has gathered just about every gastronomic award, including the coveted three Michelin stars. Master chef Benjamín Urdaín has spent nearly 30 years fine-tuning a menu that combines classic French recipes with those of his Basque homeland. Only a culinary master with a refreshing unpretentiousness can give humble dishes like pig*s trotters and smoked fish equal prominence with oysters, caviar, truffles and foie gras. Some may find the formality of Zalacaín a touch overdone, with its various dining areas, some of which are well suited to tête-à-tête, subdued lighting and dark red decor. Jacket and tie are de rigueur.

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What to do When You are Down

This is a very difficult time of the year to be down. The longer days illuminate the spring colors - the new greens - the Northern Hemisphere is now in bloom.

Enjoy this wonderful time of the year to its fullest.

Sorry - we can not send you the fabulous fragrances!

Flowers for Missey

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We Love to Hear from Our Friends.

Our Friends

Please write to us. If you like we will publish your correspondence in our next newsletter and web site. Tell us about yourself - your needlepoint "addiction" - what you would like us to add or remove from our newsletters ... or any of your favorite anecdotes! If you prefer to remain anonymous be sure to include this at the end of your note. Just click below and write - it is that simple. --

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Nice Thoughts from Our Friends.

Dear Jan, Please forgive my long silence -- it has been an eventful winter here in Washington DC.

It is such a treat to receive your lovely and vivacious newsletter. I may be moving to New York in April - but if I do - I will keep you apprised. Thank you for sharing so much with us in your newsletters.

Fondly, (our friend in Washington, DC)

I received my Napoleon kit yesterday. I wanted to thank you for your expediency and attention to detail with my order. Your company should be very proud of the service it provides its customers. Please keep me informed of any new products you may have to offer in the future. Sincerely, A friend from Minneapolis

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Favorite Sayings

Favorite Sayings

Haz el bien, y no mires a quién

A Literal translation would be - Do the good, and don't look at whom.

A proper translation - Do what is right - not what will gain approval. This is a very common saying in Spain - and one we wish would spread around the world. It certainly would improve the quality of living - and - it costs so little!


Until ten years ago - Spain had only two television stations. Imagine >

People would say "Did you see THE movie last night" - there was only one movie - so it was shared by all and a major conversation piece the next day.

So - the Television is a fairly new addition to the Spanish life style.

This leads to a funny story of our friend´s family who invited their Grandmother to live with them. Now - she had never even seen a Television before (and this is a very recent story).

Well ... the problem arose because the Grandmother was absolutely convinced that the people inside the Television could see her - and she insisted that everyone dress up in formal attire before and whenever the TV was turned on.



NOW - A Sad Note (Yes - we have been very down)

*Missy - at twenty-two years old - it was just your time to go - but God knows - how much we miss you - every single day*


We lost our dear companion Missy last April 18th.

This is all for now - - ¡Hasta Pronto!

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