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martes, 26 de marzo de 2013

Holy Week: Easter in Spain.




Holy Week: Easter in Spain.
Holy week procession
Spain celebrates Easter Week much more than most European countries. During the whole of Semana Santa, (Holy Week), street processions are organised in most Spanish towns each evening, from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday. People carry statues of saints around on floats or wooden platforms.  The Easter week processions end with Easter Sunday, a day full of light and colour when church and cathedral bells are heard ringing throughout the country.
Holy week procession
Each day there is a number of processions, one from each brotherhood in the city, made up of floats which are carried from their church to the cathedral and back again. Each procession is different and each one has its own particular followers, either due to the location of the church or the exact nature of the procession (the presence of or type of music, the time of day, etc).
Easter Sunday in Elche
Easter Sunday in Elche

In the processions, marchers usually wear clothes that cover them totally, also their faces. This garment consists in a tunic, a hood with conical tip (capirote) used to conceal the face of the wearer, and sometimes a cloak. The exact colors and forms of these robes depend on the particular procession. The religious fraternities and brotherhoods are responsable for carrying the statues and organising the penitents and musicians. The marchers follow the people who carry the floats bearing sculptures and models of biblical scenes.

Holy week procession
The people who carry the weight of the floats are called "costaleros" and are expected the carry these "thrones" with solemnity and grace.
Although the majority of the population in Spain is considered Catholic, actually only 10 percent are practicant. However, the catholic traditions like Holy Week processions have an important follow-up. It is a mixture of tourist attraction, tradition and religion.
Holy week procession

jueves, 21 de marzo de 2013

Elche White Palm Market


Elche White Palm Market

            The tradicional Elche White Palm Market will take place two days before Palm Sunday (on the 22nd, 23rd, and 24th March this year 2013). Elche is famous fot it´s palm trees which provide a large percentage of special blanched or white palms that are used throughout the world on Palm Sunday.

           In many palm groves in and around Elche, the palm leaves spend most of the year wrapped in black plastic to starve them of sunlight and turn them from green to golden colour for use in the parades.
tradicional Elche White Palm Market

           The palm leaves can be used just as they are cut , or crafted into intrincate designs. You can watch the craft people at work and buy their beautiful palm products.

           This trading takes place in various city points. The main is in Square Plaza de Baix (beside the City Hall), and the others are in Plaza de Barcelona, Olaza de Madrid, Mercado del Pla de San José, Plaza de Castilla Y Plaza de Altabix.



tradicional Elche White Palm Market


tradicional Elche White Palm Market

miércoles, 13 de marzo de 2013

ONE OF THE LAST TRADITIONAL OLIVE OIL MILL.

Around Elche there were about 25 olive oil mills in the middle of the twentieth century. Actually there are 3. One of them is “Almazara Candela”.Today most of the olive oil mills work by centrifugation, with modern automated systems, but this is one of the last that is still working with the traditional extraction system of hydraulic presses.


Candela´s presses working
Candela´s presses working
This olive oil mill is situated between olive trees, very near to Elche, 3 minutes by car from General Hospital (Lat. 38°15'3.84"N, Long. 0°39'41.50"O). It´s recommended to study the map before going there. Just before arriving, take as a reference a tall phone mast that is next to the mill. When you arrive you will find an old house, but not a placard of the oil mill.
 Tall phone mast that is next to the mill


The Almazara Candela began operating in its current location in 1925, with a stone mill pulled by mules and twohand presses. In 1932 the first hydraulic press was installed.

About 80 “capachos” (like a circular carpet made up with polypropylene rope), are put in every press during two hours, and olive oil is separated by decanting of the obtained juice. Once extracted the olive oil, it´s stored in a stainless steel drums. This method is called “first cold pressure”, and many people say that this procedure gives the olive oil a more traditional flavor.


Putting crushed mass on the “capachos”.

Putting crushed mass on the “capachos”.




“Capachos” in the press and dripping olive oil.

“Capachos” in the press and dripping olive oil.


Along the year you can buy there virgin olive oil in plastic bottles of 2 or 5 liters. The work season goes from November to January, and then it´s possible to buy unfiltered olive oil, a special choice for olive oil lovers.


Virgin olive oil.

Virgin olive oil.






domingo, 3 de marzo de 2013

WHITE PALM HANDCRAFT WORKSHOP AND DATES.



Plaited and smooth palm
Plaited and smooth palm
 

In Plaza Rey Jaime I Square, (Lat. 38°16'6.47"N, Long. 0°41'37.85"O),     4 minutes walking from Elche City Hall, you can find the Serrano Valero family´s workshop. Between October and Easter, this family sells here pomegranates and dates of their own plantations, and white palm handcraft that they make in this place. From Easter to October it´s closed.
 

White palm leaves are carried by thousands of people in the Palm Sunday procession in Elche, through the streets in the city. The first reference of this tradition was written in 1371.  

The production of the white palm leaf (lapel pin, smooth palm and plaited palm) is a quite laborious process. The plaiting of the white palm is a task that takes a lot of dedication, and it´s hard to teach.

 In worked palms, leaves are plaited, joint and sewn in order to make decorative motifs like stars, chain stitches, crosses, virgins, balls, flowers, etc., which are added little by little to the central palm leaf and thus manage to get beautiful results.
 
Families of palm farmers like Serrano Valero family, have passed their artisan knowledge down from generation to generation.
 


 
 


 
Fig bread (pan de higo), dates and pomegranates
Fig bread (pan de higo), dates and pomegranates



Natural dates
Natural dates



Other products for sale
Other products for sale



palm-leaf lapel pins
Palm-leaf lapel pins




working plaited palm
Working plaited palm
 
 
Serrano Valero family, to mid-twentieth century
Serrano Valero family, to mid-twentieth century
 
 
Serrano Valero family´s workshop
Serrano Valero family´s workshop



white palm workshop map
White palm workshop map