MAVORES Y CRISTIANOS
Once a year, in April, in the quiet Valencian town of Alcoy, a war occurs. Citizens, armed with axes, spades, rifles and muskets, fill the streets and the real doomsday begins. A look at this costume fight flocking curious from all over Spain.
Fighting locals for nearly two hundred years. True, it all began much earlier, during the struggle of the Spaniards and Arabs. In the distant 1276, the army of the Moors under the leadership of Al-Azraq attacked the small village of Alcoy. The battle was difficult, the Christian knights fought fiercely. Armed with whoever he could, the inhabitants of Alcoy defended themselves. But the forces were unequal – the Arab army was huge and well trained. It seemed the Spaniards were doomed.
Before the last and decisive attack of the Arabs, according to legend, the defenders of the village appeared St. George. “God is with us and we will win!” he said to the soldiers, instilling in them unprecedented power. The Christians, having repelled the attack of the Moors, went forward. The enemy leader was killed in the battle, and his army was completely defeated. With the help of St. George, the Alcoans won a miraculous victory, freeing their lands from invaders. Many centuries in a row, locals celebrated a joyful event, for the sake of dressing in costumes of the Crusader Knights and the Moors and playing scenes from that famous battle. In the XVIII century, spontaneous celebrations, it was decided to give official status. So in Valencia there was a colorful holiday “Moors and Christians”.
If the modern holiday in Alkoy differs from the medieval one, it’s only on a grand scale – they fight for three days. Guests who come to the city receive programs, like in a theater, in which everything is scheduled by minute. The locals begin to “warm up” the night before. Men, putting on their best business suits, and putting huge cigars in their teeth, go out into the streets to demonstrate their boldness. A cigar is an essential attribute of action. Ask any warrior – why? He will find it difficult to answer: this is customary, this is a tradition that even the most powerful anti-nicotine campaign will not cope with. Having stood in the ranks, men walk through the streets of the city, as if rehearsing tomorrow’s procession.
They don’t build special decorations for the holiday – they are narrow medieval streets of the city. And only on the main square, where the main actions of the holiday will unfold, a wooden fortress is built every year.
Chairs are set up along the streets for spectators. Tickets for seats “on the ground” should be taken care of in advance: they are sold out long before the start of the holiday.
All balconies are covered with white flags with red crosses – symbols of St. George. Balconies are the best place to watch a performance. The next morning, a grand procession of Moors and Christians begins. The city is divided into two “warring camps” overnight. In each of them, 14 combat units are phil. Christians have phyla of Basque, Asturians, Aragonese, crusaders, Moors have phyla of Berbers, Moroccans, Benimerins … Fila is not only a brave fighting unit, but also a union of like-minded people. The “fighters” spend all their leisure time together, arrange meetings and gatherings, discussing the scenario of future marches and details of costumes. For a long time they do not think of who to become, a Berber or an Aragonese. Membership in the fillet is most often inherited: after all, more than a hundred years ago, the great-great-grandfathers of the present knights and viziers marched in the same streets.
Alcoyans live in their own special dimension. They have a different value system. While we are saving up for expensive cars, apartments and travels, Alcoys save money on costumes. The luxurious outfits of the Moors and Christians are worth a fortune. These include handmade swords and shields, specially forged chain mail, clubs, visors, hand-embroidered camisoles and raincoats. Notice, not a dime is spent on arranging a holiday from the treasury of the city. Everything is due to personal donations of citizens.
The troops of the Moors and Christians lead the captains into battle. This elective position is for only one year. Captains usually appoint the most respected and influential citizens.
The first to enter the narrow medieval streets are the victors – Christians. Their captain is handed a symbolic key to the city, and he begins the procession, accompanied by his squadron. As planned by the scriptwriter, armed crusaders in armor with banners, drummers and trumpeters should show the fighting power of Christians. They are followed by live pictures from peaceful life: the captain’s favorite with his retinue, a real royal hunt with a pack of greyhounds and falconers, a bear in a cage and an endless string of noble ladies and horse and foot knights in breathtaking costumes. By the way, costumes for the captain’s squadron are sewn new every year. In the next procession, not a single detail of the script will be repeated.
Following the captain, the fighting groups of the townspeople enter the city, each in its own form and in its own orchestra, and no small one. Amazed at how many musicians come from in a small town! Huge drums set the rhythm for the procession, and the sharp sounds of Dolsine (small trumpets) call for victory. Erased hands are tied to a tired drummer on the go, but he doesn’t stop playing