The Biar Moors and Christians Festival, in Alicante, are celebrated annually from May 9 to 13 in honor of the Mare de Déu de Gràcia, the patron saint of the municipality.
They commemorate the conquest of Biar by King James I the Conqueror in 1245.
These festivals, one of the oldest and most unique in the Valencian Community, are a program full of emotion, tradition, music, joy, gunpowder, hospitality, enthusiasm and camaraderie.
Seven troupes participate in the festivities, four from the Christian side and three from the Moorish side.
The Biar City Council and the Brotherhood of the Mare de Déu de Gràcia also participate in the organization.
During the five days of the festival, the masets of the groups open their doors to share joy and good food.
The festivities are revived in November with the “Mig Any” celebration.
Days before the Biar festivities
during the days before To the Moors and Christians Festival in Biar, there are several events that the troupes celebrate.
Highlights include the presentation of the official festival poster and magazine, the reading of the proclamation, the Festival Music Concert, the Annunciation in the Sanctuary, the festival of San Vicente Ferrer and the Festival Announcement.
On the festival of San Vicente Ferrer, the town is filled with music and gunpowder, and the Processó dels Combregars tours the town to offer communion to the sick.
At noon, the harquebusiers unload kilos and kilos of gunpowder with their muskets and the parade of the standard-bearers carrying the flags of their groups begins.
The descent of the Virgin in Biar
The descent of the Virgin It is the main act in honor of the image of the Virgin.
It takes place on the night of May 10 and consists of lowering the image of the Sanctuary to the Parish in the company of the groups and the Biar municipal band.
The geographical configuration of Biar allows the ridges of the surrounding mountains to be full of bonfires that will be lit during the descent, forming a rosary of fire with the anagram of Mary.
The first bonfire to be lit is the Rooster's Song and then the others are lit successively.
The Espies ball in Biar
The Ball of Spies It is a dance that symbolizes an attempted conquest by disguised Moorish troops in the town of Biar.
It takes place on May 11 and remembers the attempts of the Arabs to reconquer the square and the castle of Biar.
The music dates back to the 13th century and is divided into four parts: espionage and measurement, embassy or parliament, dance representing the triumph of Saracen arms and the representation of Muhammad as the triumph of Islam.
The Muhammad in Biar
The Muhammad It is a medieval tradition related to the Aragonese and Catalan giants and big heads.
It has been documented in Biar since 1838, and is likely to have existed before that.
At the end of the Moors and Christians Festival of Biar, the figure of Muhammad is transferred to the city of Villena.
In the past, the figure was destroyed, but after the Second Vatican Council some populations suppressed it.
The tradition is the most recognized in Biar and is considered a figure of great admiration in the town.
Origin of the Moors and Christians festivals in Biar
He origin of the Biar Moors and Christians Festival It dates back to 1644 when the Archbishopric of Valencia allowed several days of patron saint festivities to be celebrated.
In the 17th century, there was evidence that during the Patron Saint Festivities of Our Lady of Grace, displays and soldiers were celebrated by the urban militia.
The division of the militia into two companies in 1743 gave rise to the oldest troupes, that of Blavets and that of Moros Vells.
In 1803 there was talk for the first time of "companies of Moors and Christians" and the current acts were established in 1806.
During the 19th and 20th centuries more troupes were added, including Moros Nous (1859), Templarios-Blanquets (1874), Estudiantes (1930), Maseros (1942) and Moros Tariks (1983).
Origin of the cult of the Mare de Déu de Gràcia in Biar
The origin of cult to the Mare de Déu de Gràcia in Biar It is uncertain and there are various theories.
According to oral tradition, two pilgrims arrived in Biar and received a log of wood, six loaves of bread, a jug of water and a room in exchange for making a gift, and the neighbors found an image of the Virgin of Grace.
Others suggest that the cult was brought by James I when he conquered Biar, or that it was promoted by a community of Augustinian friars in the 14th century.
The oldest known historical data is from 1497, when a will mentions a hermitage dedicated to the Virgin of Grace and an altar in the parish.
After an intense drought in 1635, the prayer procession to the hermitage obtained rain, and the Consell de la Vila proclaimed the Mare de Déu de Gràcia as patron saint of Biar and established the patron saint festivities in May.
Sanctuary of the Mare de Dèu de Gràcia
He Sanctuary of the Mare de Déu de Gràcia It is an important cultural and religious building in the town of Biar, Alicante.
There was already a hermitage under this dedication in 1557 and its foundation could be attributed to the Franciscan Capuchins in the 14th century.
The sanctuary has three naves, with cross vaults in the central nave and blind domes in the others.
The presbytery is rectangular and delimited by an iron railing.
It has a colored floor from the beginning of the 20th century.
The sanctuary is located in the Sierra de Fontanelles and offers a large recreational area and hiking in nature.