In describing last week’s vacation, many of my students wanted to talk about procesiones in their villages. They asked me to supply them with a word for this term, and, although WordReference.com would have them say “procession,” I prefer to translate it as “religious parade.”

During a procesión, the religious floats and garb of Semana Santa spring to life. They are donned by the brotherhoods and sisterhoods of a city’s various church groups and paraded around town for all to see. While photos cannot compare to the hair-raising atmosphere surrounding the pasos, I wanted to share some details with you. Here are photos of my time in León, where procesiones are a somber affair.

Here come the pointy hats! The anonymity of capirotes serve to make all of the wearers equal in the eyes of God.

And now for the floats. This group was comprised of women.

Notice the bare feet on the far left; some people leave their shoes behind as an extra act of penitence.

Another fact: the religious parades are noisy, as musicians accompany the float-bearers.

“Which way did Mary go?”

All ages take part in a procesión; these girls passed out candy to children.

Adios, procesión!