Corpus Christi is a religious festival that celebrates the Eucharist as the real body and blood of Christ. It is a moveable feast day held sixty days after Easter Sunday, and this year (2012) falls on Thursday June 7th.
The night before the procession in Seville, the streets are strewn with rosemary and flower petals, balconies are draped with shawls, and shrines are put up at various points along the route, with a competition for the best one, and in the Plaza San Francisco the procession passes through a specially constructed portada (gateway). An unusual feature of the end of the procession is the dance of “Los Seises” performed in the Cathedral by young choirboys in mediaeval style costumes.
The best way to see the shrines and other decorations is to go out early (around 8 am) and walk the route of the procession while there still aren’t too many people about – start at the Cathedral and just follow the trail of rosemary. It’s a great excuse to stretch your legs, get some fresh air and work up an appetite for that morning coffee and toast. The procession starts at 8.30 and finishes back at the Cathedral around noon.
In Granada, Corpus Christi takes place during Feria, so the solemnity of the religious festival is surrounded by a week of dancing and partying. Feria starts on Monday, with the “alumbrao” or switching on of the portada lights at midnight. The day before Corpus is the “la pública” procession, aimed at children and young people, but great fun for adults, too. It is also called “La Tarasca” for its central figure of a woman in the fashion of the day (the costume is always a well-kept secret) riding a dragon, accompanied by giants and demons wearing huge heads who swat at you with leather balloons as they walk by. The Corpus procession draws huge crowds onto the streets before the final weekend of Feria with its horses and flamenco costumes draws the festivities to a close for another year.
[photos courtesy of ©azahar-sevilla.com]