Spain is a religious country, but it wasn’t always Christian. For hundreds of years leading up to around 1000 BC, Spain was predominantly Muslim. A strong Arab influence (think Granada) ruled the day. During this time Judaism was also heavily present.
Enter the Middle Ages, a pushy king in a Spanish province, and the Bible being mass produced for the first time. Christianity rose above the other widely held beliefs, and has remained the most popular to this day. Consequently, pilgrimage is still a strongly held tradition across the country and thus we present:
Panrimo’s Top 5 Spanish Pilgrimages
5. La Semana Santa, Holy Week
Arguably the most important holiday in Spain, Spaniards take a week to remember the trial, deception of his friends, and suffering of Jesus Christ. Processions occur with actors walking the streets, whipping a man carrying a cross. It can get fairly intense.
4. Dia de Todos los Santos, All Saints Day
The 1st of each November, Spaniards take time to remember loved ones who have died. Families walk to graveyards to place flowers and gifts at sites. It is a very community-oriented affair.
3. The Way of St. James, or El Camino de Santiago
St. James was one of Jesus’ 12 apostles, and the first Christian martyr. His body was taken from Jerusalem and across Spain to be buried in Santiago de Compostela. Those seeking penitence and forgiveness of sin follow this route by land to St. James’ resting place. It’s a very popular trek of 1000 miles, and takes the average hiker two and a half months.
2. El Rocio Pilgrimage
A week after Holy Week in Spain more than a million Andalucíans make the trek to El Rocio nearby Huelva. The story goes that a hunter discovered a statue of the Virgin Mary in a tree trunk in the 13th century. A chapel was built where the tree once stood, and now people from as far away as Barcelona walk to El Rocio to sit in the chapel.
1. San Benito Abad Pilgrimage
Interesting if only because it takes place on the Canary Islands, the San Benito Abad Pilgrimage gives thanks to the saint who watches over summer harvests for farmers. The pilgrimage today is more like a festival celebrating the culture heritage of the islands, with folk songs, dancing, and local food.