Why Spain’s Easter white hoods are an emblem of penance, not of right-wing extremism

For a lot of, the very first thing that involves thoughts is Ku Klux Klan’s terrorism, however capirotes, the white pointy hats, are used throughout Semana Santa’s celebrations and don’t imply what individuals assume.

Each time we see a sharp, cone-shaped, white hat we straight-away take into consideration the KKK: their headwear is branded in our collective creativeness and has develop into an emblem of racism, fanaticism and violence.

In comparison with the Spanish capirote, the KKK’s pointy hat is newer: in response to an article printed by the Israeli newspaper Hareetz, when the Klan initially fashioned in 1865, members didn’t put on the garment, as they have been “too disorganised and decentralised to put on a uniform.”

The group’s official uniform was launched within the early twentieth century by William J. Simmons, who re-established the KKK in 1915: members began sporting a uniform, as a solution to develop into extra cohesive and centralised.

The hoods ensured anonymity of Klansmen in order that they couldn’t be recognised and held accountable for his or her actions.


Photograph: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds / AFP

In keeping with some sources, Simmons probably determined to undertake the cone-shaped hat as a way to copy the outfit current in D.W. Griffith’s traditional movie, ‘Delivery of a Nation’. Others hyperlink using the sharp hat to “people traditions of carnival, circus and minstrelsy.”

READ ALSO: Seven surprisingly unusual traditions celebrated at Easter in Spain

A Ku Klux Klan initiation in Mississippi, 1923.The Library of Congress

Nonetheless, Spaniards don’t see something controversial in sporting them throughout Semana Santa celebrations. Within the week previous Easter Sunday, Spanish cities are stuffed with festivities; most of them contain non secular processions, the place individuals put on conventional costumes, such because the capirote.


Photograph: Jaime Reina / AFP

Historically, capirotes have been used in the course of the instances of the Spanish Inquisition: as a punishment, individuals condemned by the Tribunal have been obliged to put on a yellow gown – saco bendito, aka blessed gown – that lined their chest and again. In addition they needed to put on a paper-made cone on their heads with totally different indicators on it, alluding to the kind of crime they’d dedicated.

Centuries later, cofrades (individuals affiliated to Catholic brotherhoods) and nazarenos began to make use of them throughout Easter processions to represent their standing as penitents. At present, the capirote nonetheless signifies the penitent’s try, by way of penance, to get nearer to God; it additionally covers the individual’s face, as a way to masks their id. 

Everytime you see individuals strolling the streets of Spain sporting capirotes, you possibly can breathe a sigh of reduction, as they aren’t right-wing terrorists however worshippers who’re doing penance.

By Ilaria Grasso Macola / The Native

READ MORE: The important information to Easter in Spain



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