There are some controversial topics in Spain, and the subjects of independence and conquering are certainly among the most flammable, and yet despite protests and independence movements causing a fair amount of bother, the Day of the Valencian Community is a fun and colourful day that I loved! This is a day to celebrate everything Valenciano, including the people, the language and really the day is principally about the history of the city and province. A similar festival (although much bigger and grander) is the Las Fallas festival in Valencia.
The festival is a celebration of James I of Aragon taking control of the area that is now the autonomous community of Valencia in 1208. He captured the city of Valencia on October 9, 1238. James I of Aragon created the Kingdom of Valencia, an independent country under his control, later that year. Valencia became part of the Kingdom of Spain in 1707. And so every year on the 9th October, there is a province-wide holiday (day off work) and everyone comes to the city centre to celebrate and enjoy this day away from working. It's a day of families, colour, food and laughter!
This is the main point of this article: to show you the incredible parade that begins at around 17:00 on the 9th October every year, where representations of the Christian and Islamic armies that fought over Valencia walk the streets. One of my favourite things about the parade is that the different groups of people are actually different neighborhoods or streets in the city and the outskirts. Each little area puts together their own costumes, themes and routines and practice for the big day!
As you can see in the photo above, some of the performances are a little more showy and rehearsed, with relatively complicated routines and what I expect must be a very tiring day for these performers. The crowd was reacting with incredible energy every time a new group came walking past our spot (about 150 metres from the main square) and the performers only increased their efforts, the louder and more animated the crowds became.
The day is also a celebration of Valencia and the strong place that it holds in Spain. The people here have parts of their culture in common with Cataluna, and the Valencian language certainly shares much of the accent and vocabulary. The desire and movement towards independence is no-where near as developed, and so for the most part, these kind of proud celebrations take place peacefully.
In the photo above you can see the incredible effort that goes into some of the costumes, and it's remarkable to see the variety and dedication to celebrating this day of Valencia.
All photos in this article belong to the writer.
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