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procession de la sanch


Every year, the people of Perpignan, situated in
Languedoc-Roussillon near France’s border with Spain, gather on Good Friday to
celebrate the Procession de la Sanch.

This year, the event takes place on March 25, and opens the
celebrations of the French Holy Week.

Dating back to 1416, the procession’s
main purpose is to honour the Passion of the Christ, and was historically also
used to accompany criminals to their execution.

The Procession de la Sanch is a sombre yet memorable affair,
where black and red-hooded figures parade around the streets of Perpignan,
beating an iron bell and drums as they pass through. Wearing the hoods dates
back to the origins of the event, worn by both criminals and executioners so
that neither party would be recognised.

It’s a good idea to arrive early for this event, as the
streets can quickly become crowded in the build-up to the main event. Even
before the march, a special atmosphere is brought upon the town as the solemn
hymns are played throughout the streets, echoing amongst the town’s old
buildings.

The march begins mid-afternoon, led by ‘le regidor’, a
red-robed figure who rings the bell marking the procession’s approach. Moving
slowly through the streets of the town, the procession stops regularly,
enabling the carriers, holding heavy life-size depictions of Jesus and Mary
upon their shoulders, to swap with other members. As they march, the sounds of
the bells, beating of the drums and tapping of the sticks carried by some
members of the procession make a resounding rhythm, while some also sing hymns
softly from beneath their hoods.

If you’re heading to the south of France this March, the
Procession de la Sanch is definitely an experience you won’t forget, steeped in
centuries of tradition yet incredibly striking against the backdrop of this now
modern and multicultural town. We’ve got a wide range of choice across the
southern France coast, including Perpignan, Cannes and Nice villas – visit our
website to find out more. 

Image: Christine
und Hagen Graf
, available under Creative Commons

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