moors and christians

The feasts of “Moors and Christians” have a very strong roots in large part of Spanish territory, as they commemorate the stage of the Muslim power and the constant struggle was alternating this power between the “Moors” and the “Christians”.

There are documented data which show the antiquity of these parties, which initially were demonstrations motivated by any reviewed events or commemorations related to the feudal lord or or visits of the king to the town or city. They even came to be held before the total reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula and some are born as another type of demonstrations. For example, those of Lerida are dances of Moors and Christians, which the Spanish merchants extended for practically the whole Mediterranean and of those that nowadays only the Dance Moreska celebrates in the island Kórchula in Croatia.

Well in an exceptional way or in a more continued way, these celebrations keep on spreading with a basic structure collaborating to the acts of the soldiery, throughout the XVIth and XVIIth centuries. Although it is from the XIXth century and especially during the XXth century when they spread of form more generalized by the whole Valencian Community, principally.

This feast, with a profoundly religious base, has been enriched with a marking playful component, theatrical, and representative of a very important part of the history of Spain; around 800 years of Muslim domination that left a deep imprint in the Spanish society until the day of today. With the passage of time, people who celebrate this Festival were adapting them to local historical events or other historical events that occurred in the course of centuries of particular relevance and did revive the historical and cultural onslaught against the Arab world, giving rise to new traditions and customs around this festival and contributed to regard it as a feast of culture of all Spain.

The feast, with its particular local differences, is composed of different acts that are divided into the “entries”, “embassies” and the “procession” and are often connected to the feast of the saint patron of the corresponding town.

The parades or “entries”, mainly in the sites of more tradition and larger populations, are characterized by its spectacular nature, not only by the suits, but also by the participation of chariots and mounted animals, like horses, elephants and dromedaries, by its shows, its groups of pipes and percussion or by the large number of used gunpowder, turning into a thunderous and impactante visual spectacle.

The parades consist essentially of squares or lines from 10 to 14 festeros, directed by a sergeant of square, or for a block of several squares with a sergeant at the head. The rhythm of the parade and the way of executing it changes as a paso doble, light and happy sounds, a moor march, rhythmic and lifting every step, or a Christian marcha, suppressed and vigorous.

From the 1950s, starts a generalized attempt to give to the feasts a historicist approach more in line with the reconquest, to the detriment of the original costumes. Instead, began to compete for show different suits each year, according to the story, more colorful and fanciful.

The participants of the feast are divided into two sides: “moors and christians”, trying to emulate the dress appropriate to the age and every culture, while leaving plenty of freedom to the ornamentation of fantasy. Each year, a captain or king are choosen, depending on the location, for each of the sides.

Basically, each side takes the city one day, known as “Moor Entry” and “Christian Entry”. The battles between the two sides are recreated, with shots of avancarga like arquebuses, muskets and blunderbusses, depending on the side.

The representation concludes with the capture of the local castle on the part of the “Christian side”, although if the town is not provided with a real castle, there is done the capture of an artificial castle. The capture is realized representing the ancient texts of the Embassies, which change according to the population, in that an ambassador exchanges a few threatening words with the defender of the castle, later to take it.

As each month of May, Sóller celebrates its most important and emblematic; the feast of “Moors and Christians”, officially named “Es Firó”.

But we’ll talk about “Es Firó” and how it was held this year 2015 in the next post.

José Francisco Pérez AlvarezAuthor:
José Francisco Pérez Alvarez

Revision and translation of texts:
Dzohara Caracola

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