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Semana Santa: Easter Week in Tenerife

Easter is quite a different occasion in Tenerife than the egg hunts and hymns that are celebrated in March and April elsewhere. Sombre in its piety, Easter week, or Semana Santa, is one of the most moving times to visit the island and take part in the masses, blessings and processions sweeping through major cities.

The Hoodies of Laguna

Beginning with Domingo de Ramos or Palm Sunday, the festivities open with participants taking to the streets waving palm branches and ‘retracing’ the historic steps of Jesus as he made his way to Jerusalem. Although there are events across the island from Santa Cruz to Adeje, perhaps the most poignant and reverent take place in La Laguna on Good Friday.

They consist of processions featuring hooded penitents wearing ‘capirote’ or conical hats that obscure their faces, followed by barefooted monks with manacled ankles and wrists. The earlier Magna Procession leaves the Church of the Concepción at 5pm, while the second is a haunting silent procession held by candlelight just after 9pm. A single accompanying drumbeat makes for a deeply atmospheric affair.

Christ in Calle Grande

Convenient for visitors staying in Los Cristianos and Playa de las Américas, the Passion of the Christ is a live-action re-enactment of Christ’s final hours involving a large portion of local residents – horses and cattle included! A great opportunity to visit the old town of Adeje and experience Tenerife’s religious culture first-hand, the Passion is held on Good Friday in Calle Grand, and hundreds of residents dress up as centurions and disciples in full costume to fill the main square and surrounding streets of the town.

Easter eggs in Tenerife

For many people Easter is a time of celebrating new life (and eating too much chocolate). In Tenerife, chocolate eggs are not as commonplace as they may be elsewhere, but it’s possible to hunt down some eggs in supermarket chains in larger towns such as Puerto de la Cruz. While Easter doesn’t have quite the same levels of indulgence of Carnaval, the vision of La Laguna’s cloaked brotherhoods in silent procession is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that is well worth the visit.