It is said that no matter where you go in Spain or at what time of year, you can find somewhere that is having fiesta! We all know of the famous Pamplona bull run, but do we know WHY the Spanish have fiestas?
Many towns have more than one fiesta during the year, beginning with several smaller celebrations and culminating in their main fiesta that generally lasts a week. Every town, city and region has its own patron saint or founder who they celebrate during fiesta.
The smaller fiestas usually mark an important historic event, such as the Moors and Christians. This is a set of festival activities which are celebrated in many towns and cities of Spain, mainly in Southern Valencia. According to popular tradition the festivals commemorate the battles, combats and fights between the Moors (Muslims) and Christians from the 8th century through to the 15th century. The festivals represent the capture of the city by the Moors and the subsequent Christian recapture.
This article by William McGrath is a fantastically detailed piece on this particular celebration, http://www.tuspain.com/travel/val1.htm?pagewanted=all
We saw the Moors and Christians parade during our last visit to Spain, (apologies for poor picture quality- taking photographs one handed whilst lifting a two year old high enough to see results in some rather incompetent photography!)
Traditionally fiesta activities usually begin in the morning, stop for siesta in the middle of the day and then continue long into the night. Often ending in a meal for the whole town set up in the streets and followed by music and dancing until the early hours. Many of the local bars and restaurants offer special menus during fiesta time so everyone can be part of the celebrations. Visitors are welcomed to join in, the Spanish are very proud of their history and eager to share it.
If you intend to visit Spain at any point I wholly recommend doing a bit of research before your trip and finding out if there is a fiesta happening near you during your stay. It is most definitely an experience not to be missed!