Spanish traditions of Easter celebrations to make you shudder

Spanish traditions are generally deeply rooted and yet again much respected in all regions of Spain.


San Christóbal de la Laguna, photos of which emphasize holidays with romance, delivers an ideal backstage for dramatic spectacles. Such public undertakings are not only meant to show off something. Their cult serves Spanish customs also in the name of Catholic faith. The fact that it is united in the case of la Laguna by guilds and brotherhoods of all sorts of interests, is good for the second largest town of of the biggest Canary Island .

One of those guilds is named Cofradia de Misericordia (brotherhood of compassion) in Spanish. It was once linked to charity work and financial support for the first hospital of La Laguna. This pioneering brotherhood with 30 brothers had helped with the administration of said Hospital de los Dolores under the management of Juan de Oñate from 1519 onwards. The guild was reinstated and truly revived on July first of 1952, after it had been dormant for a long time after the Middle Ages.

Convent Santo Domingo La Laguna Tenerife Convent Santo Domingo La Laguna

By the way, contrary to some classic Spain brotherhoods such as some clubs for friendships in Tenerife, the guilds of San Cristóbal de la Laguna Tenerife are still closely knit with the Roman Catholic church. This makes the institution of the church of the Vatican one of major players in Spanish traditions of Tenerife.

It is important to note in this context that the Santo Domingo convent the Convento de Santo Domingo de Guzmán still belongs to the parish of La Laguna. Therefore, it is now custom that the Tenerife main bishop is leading on the Magna procession on Good Friday in La Laguna.

Enjoy this following video of the Magna 2010, where different guilds and even children take part.

Spanish traditions by Magna procession

There are several traditional Easter processions which start on Palm Sunday, while La Magna tops them all. It is also most popular with families and tourists. In fact, Easter with Viernes Santo is more important than Christmas in the Catholic faith. 

Where encounter a hooded Easter procession?

Not only Tenerife has Easter customs with hooded men. I saw a scary Easter march in Vigo on mainland Spain in 2001. There, the hooded guys looked almost identical to those of Tenerife. Therefor, it may be hard to know who has invented those Spanish traditions of solemn Easter parades.

Please note that the Magna La Laguna of 2019 will take place at 5 p.m. on April 19.

What are the famous hooded processions like?

Men with long dark capes trot toward or past you. Pointy tall purple hoods, blue, red, white or just black ones leave no flesh between the torso, nor do they reveal a human face. Sometimes a white robe is worn underneath. Ku Klux slits mock the location of eyes. Bar hands hold sturdy timber sticks which look like being an inch thick. Sometimes, they uniformly point towards the central empty road space between the heavy looking marchers.

All that timber forms almost a menacing military pattern of a Sphalanx.

Monotonous drum beat echoes between ancient houses on paved or cobble streets. It sounds less threatening, when it reaches the town square Plaza del Adelantado de Lugo, who was a founder of the first Cofradias of La Laguna.

The silent Laguna parade in the dark

Following Spanish traditions by brotherhood Easter celebrations of more than half a century, a procession which is called the silent one at 10 p.m. repeats everything except for the sounds of music by a few bands. Only the faint noise of chains is heard when they are dragged along on the paved streets in the old quarters of towns.

Traditions with a wooden cross made of real trees

Penitents of La Laguna don't all look spooky. Besides, even children and dignities, such as the bishop and clergy, a military elite group and important politicians take part in the procession. 

Click on the pictures that follow to enlarge them...

However, any large, wooden crosses, metal chains that complicate the walking of bare feet still play a prominent part as symbols of repentance. Not to forget that temperatures of La Laguna where winter coats are seen during the so called Via Cruxis are generally lower than in the rest of the island. Never forget something warm to wear...

In La Laguna, some perceive it as even more spooky when rustic sticks light up the way during the Silent procession. Then, some pedestrian passages near the cathedral are almost pitch dark. Just like I found them but, with added magic around Christmas in 2009.

Such a climate aggravates feelings of time gone by. Wouldn't you think of scenes of the opera Hunchback of Notre Dame and of French revolution conspiracies by Montmartre of Paris?

One of many good sides of La Laguna brotherhoods

Contrary to all this, just figure another aspect of those  traditions. In fact, many of the sinister looking creatures of the same hooded brotherhoods take human ethics by the Catholic faith very seriously. They are much involved in social work for the very poor and needy of La Laguna town.

The glamorous part of the main Good Friday processions

Enjoy seeing those enormous trophies of baroque church artefacts and other churches of La Laguna when they appear at intervals between the Cofrades...

The sacred treasures, many of which originate from Convento Santo Domingo and its sponsor Amaro Pargo a legendary Corsair are turned street art every year. Then, they are carried through the old Casco of La Laguna town on Viernes Santo Good Friday.

The reason for taking church sculptures to the street

Art images or sculptures of street Easter displays are always meant to stir compassion for Christ's suffering with locals as well as with tourists. The Virgin Mary of the Catholic faith is also taken out to the street as part of Spanish traditions during Fiesta del Carmen as well as during other church festivals.

How get to the old quarters of La Laguna by Titsa

The best and easiest in my mind is to use its very frequent Tranvia transport from the capital Santa Cruz until the terminal Trinidad of La Laguna. There, encounter a board with a street map with all tourist sites marked by numbers. Unfortunately despite improved services of 2019, Titsa buses may not run after Midnight on Good Friday late at night. The slow 102 bus (103 express not operating very late at night) from Santa Cruz to Puerto de la Cruz may be useless to catch. Why? A last one home from El Puerto might not be available at late hours, even after using the late 104 from Santa Cruz. Taxis at that time are not guarantied.  Therefor, best sleep over in Santa Cruz or in La Laguna, above all after the Silent Parade Procesión del Silencio. 

See many stunning photos of the Puerto de la Cruz Good Friday procession which still starts just after 8p.m. in 2019.

Easter passion plays under Tenerife sun

These Adeje events of Viernes Santa the Holy Easter Friday have become an important tradition. They are so popular that they are now broadcast by the National television by the year. Mind that they are performed by amateurs mainly.  

Ancient Spanish traditions of Carnival

Another less gloomy, but grotesque custom of worshiping street art is the fiesta of the Sardine. Its mock burial by the ocean takes place after parading the huge artificial sardine through the roads as part of the Carnival tradition of Tenerife. All ends with great fun.

Easter customs compared with Christmas

To the contrary of Easter, Christmas which find under photos in the navigation bar reveals many Spain Tenerife traditions which are bright and cheerful without any gloom.

Return from Spanish traditions to Tenerife fiestas and find open air Theater Arona Easter plays of Adeje, Corpus Christie street art, carnival attractions, the Fiesta San Vincente and much more.




Photos of Easter Procession La Laguna

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