The Moor the merrier

I have just returned from an evening in Villajoiosa and my ears are still ringing from the gunfire as hundreds of Islamic gunmen prowled the streets, firing wildly. Yes, it is our wonderful local politically incorrect fiesta Moros y Cristianos, where half the town dresses up as the Moors and the other half of the town dresses up as Christians, and they drink a lot, fire guns and try and push the other side into the sea. Only in Spain! (Seriously, could you imagine this happening in Birmingham?)

I started off with the rather boring Catholic attitude of supporting the Christians, out of a natural loyalty, but in this kind of costume drama the Moors clearly have the more exciting visual appeal. This evening’s episode was the confrontation of Christians and Moors at the Moorish king’s castle and the Moors were beautifully arraigned in costumes that seemed more Inca than Islam, but hey ho, it’s only a carnival! Then the Moors were all pushed into the sea and it all ended happily with a Mass for Our Lady in the local church (seriously…)

The horse of the Christian king nearly bolted as he was being led away, due to the loud explosions all around, so I was glad I took the advice I had been given and did not walk Matilde and Rubi into Villajoiosa to take part in the festivities, as I originally had considered. The fiestas continue until the weekend with loads more Islam v. Christian rivalry and battles. If you want to dress up as an Islamic gunman, the shops all around town sell all the gear.

But honestly, can you imagine this anywhere else in the world?


About Gareth Thomas

After a mixed career as an aircraft technician, London fringe theatre playwright, Franciscan friar, and secondary school teacher, I find myself looking after the needs of four donkeys in a remote location in the mountains in the Costa Blanca. I like to listen to BBC Radio 4 and the wind in the pine trees. I am writing a comedy about a school in Benidorm. My favourite film of all time is "Jean de Florette". If I had my time again I would not have spent the early 1970s working for Special Branch.
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6 Responses to The Moor the merrier

  1. Wonky Pilgrim says:


  2. cherry says:

    Just amazing – thank you so much for sharing it with us… somehow I cannot in my wildest dreams imagine this taking place in Birmingham or Blackburn! Out of interest – what does the local Muslim commntiy make of this Festival – given that the annual drenching of their ancestors is a foregone conclusion?

    Glad you didn’t take the donks- much better to be lazily munching figs back home on the ranch than bucking to fireworks! Keep up the posts – my only source of merriment in the middle of Sumemr school and spot checks from the British Council! C!x

  3. Frere Rabit says:

    That’s a good question, Cherry. The local Muslim community is quite strong in Villajoiosa and traditional Islamic dress is quite common on the streets and in the supermarkets, with a flourishing community of shops and cafes. Observing the fiestas this week, it is clear that the Muslim community is out there on the streets enjoying the spectacle as much as the Catholic residents, and there is clear evidence of some participation, but the ‘Moors’ are mostly composed of confraternities who annually dress up in matching costumes depending on the barrios they are based in.

    In the solemn procession of the statue of La Patrona tonight, it is the turn of the Compania Artilleria del Islam y Labradores, a fiesta confraternity of Spanish Catholics dressed as ‘Moors’. So the statue of the Virgin Mary will be borne on the shoulders of men dressed as ‘Moors’! As I said, the whole things would be seen as ‘politicially incorrect’ in England and you cannot even imagine the authorities permitting such an event!

    The main danger here seems to be the loudness of the explosions. The force of the exploding fireworks is great enough to cause shock-waves and parents don’t seem too concerned about the effect of this on young sensitive ears. The explosions have been peppering the air for the entire week of the fiestas. Yesterday they began at 4.45 am !

  4. Wonky Pilgrim says:

    As is the way of things…….a counterbalance:

    Wouldn’t happen in good old blighty!

  5. Frere Rabit says:

    Slightly off-topic, I think, Wonky Pilgrim.

    Ah well… Today is the great paella competition in Villajoiosa, so I’m sure it will not b very controversial. I’ll take Matilde into town and see what mayhem we can cause…

  6. Wonky Pilgrim says:

    <10 miles apart.

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