Ethnic traditions

Santo Encuentro or Saint Meeting. Solemnity of Easter.

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Santo Encuentro or procession of the Encuentro is the name of one of the religious celebrations of Holy Week in Spain.

Santo Encuentro is celebrated at dawn on Easter Sunday, with the men with the image of the risen Christ coming out on one street, and the women with the image of the Virgin Mary on another street; The Virgin usually wears a colored mantle on the inside and black on the outside. As they approach a square where the two streets converge, they greet each other by lowering the litter several times to the ground; once produced in meeting they remove the black cloak from the Virgin (sign of mourning) and the two steps together return to the church.

In addition, during this festivity the Fifths are in charge of fulfilling the traditions of Easter Sunday, the preparations for the procession: on Holy Saturday at night the fifths adorn the church with the “alleluias” (branches of almond blossom) and the Fifths put pine trees in the square and Calvary, and on Easter Sunday, in some places, they are the bearers of the Risen Christ during the procession, sometimes causing the confluence of the Christ and the Virgin to end with a race with the Risen Christ until the Virgin.

This custom is very widespread especially in Castilla y León (León, Ávila, Segovia) and Castilla-La Mancha (Cuenca); although there are similar representations in other Spanish localities.

The tradition varies slightly from place to place; Although in some cases such as Zaragoza, Ferrol (La Coruña), Chinchilla de Montearagón (Albacete), unlike the other representations, the Santo Encuentro that is celebrated does not refer to the scene produced after the Resurrection, but to one of those of Stations of the Cross in which there is an encounter between “the Holy Woman Verónica” and Jesús de Nazaret. In these cases, the representation is not “joyous”, but “painful”.

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