Tradition is still alive.
Every Good Friday all the people from Bercianos de Aliste (Spain) celebrate the death and burial of Christ with great withdrawal, emotion and passion. A praise to Christ that has remained unaltered since the XVI century.
According to oral tradition the origin of this religious celebration is due to a promise made by the people during the Middle Ages to get rid of a plague that was devastating the region.
It is the custom that, before getting married and during the first year of engagement, women make the white shroud for their future spouses belonging to the brotherhood. The day they get married, this garment will be part of the dowry and, according to the tradition, it will be the dress that they will wear on Good Friday and the one they will wear when they pass away. Thus, those are their burial clothes.
The shroud can only be worn by those members of the brotherhood who are not widowed, elderly or have joined the brotherhood during the last year. The rest will wear the “capa alistana” (a typical local cloak). Woman will dress appropiately, according to the mourning.
On Good Friday’s afternoon, all the people is called to gather in the town square for the Descent ceremony. A cross is placed with an articulated Christ nailed, which later on is taken down and put into an urn for burial and rest during the rite of the procession.
The hair-raising funeral cortege is opened by the banners and the men in shrouds, the men in cloaks, and young men holding spears. Towards the end they place the urn with the body of Christ and all the single women stand holding the statue of Our Lady of Sorrows.
The recumbent Christ is taken with his father with great simplicity and humility. He goes to the cemetery, the Calvary, on top of a mountain. Firstly they pray “Cinco llagas” (Five Wounds), and then the song "Miserere" is recited in Latin by men and in Spanish by women. From there, they return to the church of the town, San Mamés.
The torn soul of the only 200 inhabitants of the village appears with an immense silence that showsthe deep religious essence acquired from generation to generation.
Penance, austerity, experience, fervour and faith flood the heart of an old Spain that is still alive against the passage of time.