Saturday, September 09, 2006

Inculturation - Spanish style!

Many of you will have seen the film El Cid which recounts the story of the expulsion of the moorish invaders from Spain. The final battle took place just outside Valencia and you can still visit the great portal through which the dead hero is supposed to have charged, strapped to his horse, leading the Christians to victory.
What´s less well known is that the whole region of Valencia and Alicante still keeps very much alive the memory of those days. In particular, many of the towns celebrate an annual festival of ´Moros y Cristianos´. The photo is of a poster advertising the festival in a town called Villa Joiosa, in honour of St Martha, and describing it as being of ´touristic interest´!
Although the celebrations last a week, the festival itself takes place over three days with the townsfolk being divided into two groups: Christians and Moors. On the first day some sixty boats arrive on the coast, flying the emblem of the Crescent moon and laden with Moors. These make their way to the castle of the Christian king to demand his rendition. The King rejects ´worshippers of idols´and a great battle ensues which the Moors win, and so on the second day it is the Moorish king who inhabits the Castle and the Christians who arrive to reconquer it. Another battle takes place resulting in the definitive Christian victory and consequent celebration throughout the town.
In all the towns of the region the plot is more or less the same, although in Vila Joiosa some modifications have had to be introduced - largely to do with limiting the consumption of alcohol! The invaders leave their boats firing rifles charged with gunpowder. One year they were so drunk that most of the gunpowder ended up on the floor where it was ignited by a stray cigarrette injuring a number of the participants and resulting in the cancellation of the celebrations. Another year the Christian king, also four sheets to the wind, refused to leave the castle and the Civil Guard had to be called to evict him!
We like to think there´s freedom of speach in England but just imagine if we tried to do something similar. Under current legislation we´d be arrested!


Joanna Bogle said...

I am hugely enjoying yopur blog. Have you seen mine? I've just started one! It's called Auntie Joanna Writs and you can get it via Fr Tim's "Hermeneutic" blog....



Fr Stephen said...

Hello Joanna
Thanks for the comment. I have seen your blog and enjoy it very much.