Fiesta de Cascamorras

CASCAMORRAS

Where- Guadix and Baza, Granada, Spain

When-  6th – 9th September

About- The Fiesta de Cascamorras is a festival declared a Fiesta of National Tourist Interest of Spain that takes place in the towns of Guadix and Baza in the province of Granada, Spain, annually on first week of September. The two towns fight for possession of a statue of the Virgen de la Piedad.

There are two parts of the Cascamorras festival – one in Baza, traditionally on 6th September, and the other in Guadix on 9th September.

Each year the nominated Cascamorras try to fulfill the pledge, but till this day has never succeeded in the mission, since smeared with black oil and chased away along the streets by the opponents. Every year on 6th September, a new Cascamorras, a clown dressed in special clean clothes, makes his way from Guadix to Baza, aiming to get the statue of the Virgen de la Piedad in clean dress. In the meantime the people of Baza go up onto a nearby hill to cover themselves with black oil. When the Cascamorras makes his run down the hill and through the streets of Baza, they are well prepared to make the Cascamorras ‘dirty’, by simply rubbing their dirty bodies against him. The Cascamorras has a porra (a rubber ball tied to a wooden stick by a leather cord) to defend himself, while his team also tries in vain to keep him clean   through the Baza streets.

Having failed in his mission, the Cascamorras, on 9th September, heads back to Guadix without the highly-prized statue. The thousands of people from Baza, in the meantime, smear themselves in black paint and move towards the field near the railway station, armed with coloured paint in plastic bottles. A rocket marks the start of the Cascomorras run, and the run begins at 18.30. Between one run and the next, the Cascamorras makes various stops to take a rest, and often lifts the flag of the Virgin de la Piedad above the heads of the people around him, who immediately get down on their knees. The local fire brigade helps the supporters to keep their cool by spraying water with a hose. Along the route, the villagers also hurl buckets of water from balconies as a part of the tradition. When they pass through the town hall square they are sprayed with foam. They then move on to the church and the run finishes at about 21.00.

In 2006, the festival was declared a Fiesta of National Tourist Interest of Spain.

History- The origins of the festival are impressive, with different versions of the legend, of which this is the most widely accepted. A legend says that a worker from Guadix, the rival town of Baza, found a buried sacred image of a Virgin while working on the land of Baza. The worker attempted to carry it back home to Guadix, but the Bazans snatched it. When Cascamorras returned to Guadix empty-handed, his countrymen, who expected the image of the Virgin, were deeply disappointed and viciously pursued those they considered responsible for their frustration. Finally, hero and people reconciled, they prayed to the Virgin who was in the other town.

Afterwards, in a mutual tribunal, Baza declared that on the saint’s day, if a nominated person from Guadix was able to reach the Virgin remaining clean, he could keep it for Guadix. Each year the nominated Cascamorras tries to fulfill the pledge, but to this day has never succeeded due to being smeared with black oil. Since then, recalling those events that unite and oppose them, Baza and Guadix celebrate the Fiesta de Cascamorras for three days in the late summer of each year.

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