Friday, October 18, 2013

Tourist in My Own City: Día de la Comunidad Valenciana

Every autonomous community in Spain has it’s own special day to celebrate its history. After celebrating for 2 years in Andalucía (and finally memorizing the song!), I was excited for Nou d'Octubre (October 9th) and experiencing The Day of the Valencian Community.

The 9th of October is one of the most important holidays in Valencia. There is lots of preparation and excitement in the weeks surrounding this festival. Bakeries decorate their windows with beautiful marzipan figures in the form of all different types of food. Traditionally these sweets are wrapped in a silk scarf and given as gifts to and from people in love.

This history of this day is not just important in the Valencian Community, but also in the history of Spain. In 1238, King James I of Aragon liberated Valencia from more than 500 years of Moorish rule. He named the newly liberated land the Kingdom of Valencia and has since become one of Valencia’s most important historical figures.

The festival officially starts on the night of October 8th, with outdoor concerts in the Turia Gardens and an amazing fireworks display near the Aragon metro station also in the Turia Gardens. In my opinion, Valencia has some of the best (and loudest!) fireworks displays in the world.

On the morning of October 9th the festivities start outside the Ayuntamiento (City Hall) with the lowering of the Valencian flag to street level. Once the flag is lowered a procession begins through the city ending at the statue of King James where flowers are placed at the base. The flag is brought back to the Ayuntamiento and is welcomed with another fireworks display (Mascletà).

File:Baixada Senyera Coronada 9 d'octubre.jpg

Later in the day, in the Plaza de la Virgen there is traditional dance and music. Around 100 men and women in traditional dress dance all while playing castanets. A band playing traditional songs accompanies them. It’s really cool to see and hear.

After that, another procession passes through the old part of the city ending at the Plaza del Ayuntamiento. If you want to read the history of this procession, check out my post on Godella's Moros y Cristianos.


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