The province of Teruel is home to the jewel in the crown of the Aragonese Holy Week: the Route of the Drum and Bass Drum. The rest of localities are not left behind, each one with its particularities.
Already accompanying our daily tune are the drums and bass drums of the faithful rehearsing. We can already see people picking up their costaleros costumes and their capirotes from the dry cleaners. We can even see images of believers preparing the pasos. It can be seen that Holy Week is approaching. In all Spain, this commemoration is lived with much impetus and the province of Teruel is not left behind.
In every town, no matter how small, the passion of Christ is commemorated. All the parishes bring out their images in this special period between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. In an increasingly empty land, this tradition is maintained, as it is something that even goes beyond the Christian faith. It has become a cultural celebration, as well as a religious one, and the feeling of belonging to a brotherhood is transmitted from parents to children.
There is a protagonist zone of the Teruel Easter that is the historical Low Aragon. There, the Route of the Drum and Bass Drum is celebrated, declared a Festival of National Tourist Interest, and, since June 2014, of International Tourist Interest. It brings together nine municipalities of the regions of Bajo Aragón, Andorra-Sierra de Arcos and Bajo Martín: Albalate del Arzobispo, Alcañiz, Alcorisa, Andorra, Calanda, Híjar, La Puebla de Híjar, Samper de Calanda and Urrea de Gaén. The common characteristic act is the Breaking of the Hour.
When mentioning this celebration in the province of Teruel, the first town that comes to mind is Calanda. Its Rompida de la Hora stands out among the others because it is celebrated on Good Friday at noon, instead of Thursday night. A famous personality first breaks the hour by beating the “bombo grande” in front of the house of filmmaker Luis Buñuel. They are followed by hundreds of drummers who throng the Plaza España. However, this article includes five more municipalities that share this passion:
The capital of the province is not far behind, with an Easter Week declared of National Tourist Interest. The 3,000 brotherhoods of the nine brotherhoods of the city go out these days in fifteen processions, full of the solemnity provided by the drums, bass drums and bugles. The brotherhood of the Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem kicks off on Palm Sunday and ends on Easter Sunday with the procession of the Risen Christ, in which all the brotherhoods participate.
The most special event is the General Procession on Good Friday afternoon, which also brings together all the companies. They go through the historic center of Teruel to the beat of the drum roll. A crowd passes between the Mudejar towers and cobbled streets. This year, on Friday of Sorrows, prior to Palm Sunday, an exceptional religious parade will take place, as the Brotherhood of Our Lady of Solitude will celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of its return to the act of the Encounter of Jesus the Nazarene with his mother. It will do it with a procession never seen before.
In the Turolense Holy Week an informal moment is reserved to get together with family and friends: the Sermon of the Tortillas. The Tuesday after Easter Sunday, the Turolenses go to the natural places of the city. The menu is clear: paella or grilled meat for lunch, donuts with hard-boiled egg for dessert and potato omelets for snack. Bullfighting festivities have recently been added to this local holiday. The brotherhood of Nuestra Señora de la Villa Vieja has always been the driving force, since they distributed wine and donuts in their chapel in the eighteenth century on the first day of May.
This town, belonging to the route of the Drum and Bass Drum, celebrates its Holy Week since the mid-sixteenth century. In 1550 was born the Brotherhood of the Blood of Christ, which continues today, as well as the veteran Roman Guard. This fiercely enters the Church every Holy Thursday during the washing of the feet. The rattles announce their arrival and the Romans are left guarding the temple. The Rompida de la Hora brings the day to an end.
With the echo of drums and drums alcorisanos wake up to face the most important day. In the morning, the procession of the proclamation takes place, led by Longinos and his “criadico”, a child who guides him because he was blinded when he pierced Christ’s side with his spear. In the afternoon, on Mount Calvary, the Drama of the Cross is performed. Thousands of visitors watch in amazement as more than three hundred people incarnate the last days of Christ’s life.
In everyone’s memory remains the image of Jesus crucified on his own cross, since he is a real person. You see in flesh and blood what you are used to seeing in carvings. Then, in a solemn and heartfelt walk, all the brotherhoods accompany the body of Christ during the Procession of the Holy Burial. The Roman Guard, the Longinos and his “criadico” guard the Holy Bed, where the son of God lies.
Híjar founded with Alcañiz, Andorra and Calanda the Route of the Drum. This fact exemplifies the importance of Holy Week in this town of 1,700 inhabitants. Every year, during four days, it does not stop listening to the drum rolls. On Holy Thursday, the hijaranos crowd the square of the Villa to break the hour. At 12 o’clock at night, the mayor indicates the beginning of the rumbling of the drums and bass drums.
Two hours later, the Procession of the Despertadores takes place. This traditional act goes through the streets of the town at an unusual hour. Two groups that participate in most of the processions, the Alabarderos and the Rosarieros, add color and liveliness. The Alabarderos dress in Roman armor and have their own band of drums and bugles. The Rosarieros accompany the floats singing songs that thrill those present.
Palm Sunday is certainly a special day, as Tamborixar, the drum and percussion fair, is celebrated. It lasts all weekend and allows you to enjoy many events and a multitude of stalls. On Sunday the jewel in the crown is celebrated: the National Competition of Drums and Bass Drums of the Villa de Híjar. That same morning, the young people who lower the Jesus’ pedestal from the Calvary to the Church take center stage.
Urrea de Gaén
If you are looking for a closer Easter, your place should be Urrea de Gaén. This municipality of 440 inhabitants is the smallest of those that make up the Ruta del Tambor. The Urreans return home for this festivity. The authenticity is noted in every detail of the celebration: instruments that pass from parents to children or old but well-kept tunics. Its winding and narrow streets leave a special stamp.
In spite of this, there are many processions. As in the neighboring towns, on Thursday, the drummers with their distinctive white handkerchief break the hour. On Good Friday, the rosarieros put melody with their songs to the Procession of the Prayer of the Garden of Olives and the images are lowered from Mount Calvary in a beautiful scene with the mountain as a backdrop. On Saturday the images are returned to their place to, in a year’s time, meet again with the same passion.
Logically, if you talk about Easter in the province of Teruel, you can not ignore the Ruta del Tambor. Nevertheless, it is not possible to forget that in the rest of municipalities this festivity is also lived intensely. Calamocha, capital of the region of Jiloca, celebrates it since the 18th century, although the current program was modified in the 80s. There are nine brotherhoods, which are attracting new members by family tradition.
The great processions begin on Wednesday night, when the brotherhoods of Ecce Homo and Nuestra Señora de la Soledad carry the Captive Jesus. The Via Crucis on Holy Thursday gathers all the brotherhoods around the Nazarene. It starts in Plaza España, in the church, where images, music and new technologies are combined. The following day, with the intimacy of the night, the nine brotherhoods go out again with each of their floats escorted by the Brotherhood of Romans.
In this procession they play the carracas. It is a typical traditional instrument of the area that is not used in any other town in Teruel during Holy Week. It is composed of a toothed wooden wheel. When turning the handle, the teeth are struck producing a very characteristic sound. Another anomaly is that the brotherhood of the Penitentes del Poyo del Cid, a town belonging to Calamocha, joins this procession. This twinning between brotherhoods leaves a very nice picture.