Like most 90s kids, I spent my early years dancing to the Macarena.
In case you live under a rock, guarded by an Amish fire-breathing dragon, the Macarena is a fantastically bouncy “Latin” song with incomprehensible lyrics and the easiest dance routine in the world. Right hand, left hand, left shoulder, right shoulder. It’s basically the hokey-pokey with attitude. Anyone can do it.
So you can imagine my shock when I learnt the meaning of the words of the Macarena. The Macarena is actually about a two-timing shopaholic called Macarena who’s sleeping around while her beloved goes off to war. Charming, right? (And to think we were taught this song in our 3rd grade dance classes!)
A more delightful shock came when I learnt about the original Macarena. Macarena is actually a relatively common name in Andalusia in Spain and is also popular in Latin America. All the lovely Macarenas in the world are named for La Macarena or La Virgen de la Esperanza de Macarena de Sevilla, the Virgin of Hope of Macarena.
Macarena is an area in the historic heart of Seville, the capital of Andalusia. The district possesses one of the most strikingly beautiful statues of Our Lady. Girls are named after La Macarena in much the same way some are called Fatima or Lourdes, both places where our Lady appeared. (I’ve never met an Irish girl called Knock though…)
The statue of Mary dates from the 17th Century. She appears as Our Lady of Sorrows, her suffering evident to all, as she considers her Son’s Passion. In Seville, however, is called the Virgin of Hope. Because even in the midst of her sorrows, our Lady never lost hope in the goodness and mercy of God, even while we hounded and tortured her son, the Son of God.
La Macarena’s most famous moment comes every Holy Week. In the early hours of Good Friday, La Macarena is processed through the streets of Seville. Hers is one of the most popular processions and lasts from midnight to midday! Such is the devotion of the people of Seville to the Virgin of Hope. (She’s also the patroness of bullfighters so that might have something to do with that!)
This is the original Macarena. The story, not of an adulterous airhead with 90s dance moves, but the story of a suffering Mother who never lost hope and of the devotion of a whole city to her Sorrowful Heart.
This Holy Week, I pray our tender Mother will be with you as you journey to the Cross with our Lord.
In other words, let’s do the real Macarena. ;)