FEASTS AND FESTIVALS
There are popular feasts all year round and local events are also celebrated. The rich and various Moroccan folklore represents all the regions through its dances, songs and traditional shows especially by way of the “mussems”. These are large gatherings of people joined together to pay homage to a holy man. If you can you should not miss the opportunity to partake in one of these feasts. You can admire the fantasias, the dances, the songs and take part in processions and degustations.
The name is of Latin origin and was given at the beginning of the 19th Century to “al-tbaurida”, a symbolic performance of a virtuous warrior, performed by the “barud”. It is always present in any great celebration, particularly in the “Mussem”: celebrations and rural markets where people come from nearby places. The “mussem” are held both inside the villages and in the open fields equidistant from various villages.
Tribal confrontations were frequent as also, the warlike nature of some of the tribes. Islam does not accept wars, except to defend life or family, so those confrontations were substituted by folkloric and festival confrontations, where the competition is hard but peaceful, and the superiority and honour of the tribe is proved through a simulated traditional military action. The horse (“al-faras”) is the main protagonist of the festival. At present there are two types of thoroughbred horses in Morocco.
The purebred Arabian: it is a riding horse, but more slender and elegant. In the VII Century, the Arab horsemen, messengers of a new religion, Islam, introduced the purebred Arab horse, and until today it is considered as the only true thoroughbred in Morocco.
The Moroccan horse is the descendant of the barb, originally came from Central Asia. It is a riding horse, hardy and lightweight, which existed in Morocco before the Arabs’ arrival. It is autochthonous of Morocco and its name derives from the word ”berber”, which points to the “amasigh”, the country’s first inhabitants.
At present, the equestrian tradition is kept and perpetuated thanks to the “Ibaurida” (Fantasia) of the “Barud” (warriors). Also the practice of falconry encourages the continuity of breeding purebred horses, but on a smaller scale, as this practice is dying out.
The “barud” (gunpowder horsemen) are equipped with the traditional clothing: armed with a “Jinyar” a traditional dagger; “Bundoquia”, a long barrel musket and “al-Qanut”, the horn to carry the powder. They press their knees forward, dig their heels into the girth and moving forward the foot and bending the knee, taking a fighting position by standing up in their stirrups as they charge along in a straight line. In the XVII Century this was changed by a blast of a crossbow.
The competition consists of carrying out, by the different groups of riders, competing in the festival, cavalry charges that end in firing their gunpowder guns (“bundoquia”) into the air, in a synchronized manner.
The value of the horse has always been associated to that of the horse rider, the higher the rank, honour or power the better the horse and vice versa.
Everything is important in horsemen: the horse must be a well trained thorough bred, the saddle beautifully adorned, and in some instances embroidered with gold thread. It is a very valued family heirloom; the bridle fit for the horse and the horseman; the clothing, traditional and unpolluted; the complements, the appearance…
Life’s most important acts were carried out on horseback, the entry of the King in a town, or that of the colonial governors during colonial times, the wedding, the hunting with falcons, the defense of honour and family… At present, the tradition of fetching the bride, after the wedding, is coming back. The groom, dressed with the traditional clothing and on horseback fetches the newlywed wife to carry her to her new home on his horse. This has been especially decorated and adapted for the occasion, and the groom turns himself into an elegant, valiant horseman and escorts her.
Another practice where the horse is invaluable is in the art of falconry. This romantic way of hunting is disappearing in Morocco, in spite of the falcons reserve and the efforts of these birds admirers.
The falcons’ reserve is located in a spectacular casbash of Boulaouane, with 7 bastions, built in 1710 by Moulay Ismail.
In the Jadida, old Mazagan, from the ancestral tribe of Kwassen, keeps on his passionate efforts to make, the forgotten art of falconry, last. He is in love with falcons and horses.
Feasts and festivals.
As these events depend many times on the seasons and on the harvests or on the lunar calendar it is difficult to give dates beforehand; for all this you can get information in the tourist offices.
- Religious Feasts (Lunar Calendar):
They are celebrated all over Morocco, and are fixed according to the lunar calendar of the Hegira, beginning of the Muslim era in the year 662 of the Christian era. The Muslim year is 10 or 11 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar, so the feasts do not coincide every year with our own calendar:
National Feasts (Gregorian calendar):