Moros y Cristianos or Moros i Cristians, literally in English is Moors and Christians, is a set of festival activities which are celebrated in many towns and cities of Spain, mainly in the southern Valencian Community; according to popular tradition the festivals commemorate the battles, combats and fights between Moors (or Muslims) and Christians during the period known as Reconquista (from the 8th century through the 15th century).
The festivals represent the capture of the city by the Moors and the subsequent Christian reconquest. The people that take part in the festival are usually enlisted in filaes or comparsas (companies that represent the Christian or Moor legions), they parade with bombastic costumes loosely inspired by Medieval fashion. Christians wear fur, metallic helmets, and armor, fire loud arquebuses (guns or cannons), and ride horses. In contrast, Moors wear ancient Arab costumes, carry scimitars (swords or spears), and ride real camels or elephants. The festival develops among the shooting and the smell of gunpowder, medieval music, and fireworks, and ends with the Christians winning a simulated battle around a castle.
The most well known Moors and Christians festival takes place in Alcoy ( a Valencian Community) from April 22nd to the 24th, around the Feast Day of Saint George. According to legend, after James I of Aragon reconquered the city of Alcoy, the Moors, in turn, tried to recover it shortly after. But, when they were about to start the battle again, Saint George miraculously appeared to he Moors, who were frightened away.
|Christian Battle Dress|
|Moors in their Battle Costumes|
Other remarkable Moors and Christians festivals are celebrated in the towns of Bocairent (Medieval town between February 1st-5th), La Vila Joiosa (with its desembarc), Villena, Biar, Cocentaina, Crevillent, El Campello, Elda, Muro d’Alcoi, Oliva (3rd weekend in July), Ontinyent, Oriola, Petrer, Pollenca and some districts of Alicante city. The most ancient festival is celebrated in Caudete (Nowadays in the Albacete province, but then was part of the Kingdom of Valencia), dated from 1588.
A version of this festival survives in the Philippines in the form of the moro-moro play, staged during fiestas. The show begins with a parade of stars in their colorful comstumes. Actors playing Christians wear blue costumes while those playing Moors wear red costumes and are fully ornamented.