12 Mar

Drinking, eating and dancing with the enemy

by Guy Veloso

After centuries of the events occurring in the City of Mazagan (known as El Jadida) in Morocco, the city of Old Mazagan in Amapá recalls those same stories so they are not forgotten. In the Saint James Festivity, the city recalls historical facts that serve as motivation to gather the citizens and lead them to become actors in a religious and cultural event; the popular theater makes traditions established in the city prevail and be revived by new generations.

The Saint James Festivity takes place every year in the month of July. During the celebration, there are several theatrical reconstitutions taking the form of the existing stories including the Gifts, Masquerades, The Little Caldeira, The Old Fool, Atalaia (Lookout Post), The kidnapping of children, Start and continuation of the battle and the Christian Victory. The Mazagan population seeks to attract more and more spectators to participate in those festivities for the creeds cherished by them to become more and more popularized. The purpose of that bicentennial celebration, created in 1777 by families of Portuguese settlers established in Mazagan, is to pay tribute to the mysterious and fearless soldier that appeared in the battles, fighting alongside the Christians against the Moors with an outstanding participation in the victory of the followers of Jesus Christ, motivated by the divine intervention in their favor in the battles because they believed in Christianity as an instrument for personal transformation and increased power.

by David Braga

One of the most curious stories is that of the Masquerades, a consequence of the gifts, which narrate the time when the Moors sent food that was supposedly poisoned to the Christians. Feeling suspicious, the Christians then threw part of the gift in the Moorish farms (where the animals were kept), and stored another part to prepare a counterattack. Then, according to the Masquerades legend, not perceiving the Christian suspicion, the Moors started to celebrate the trap with which they imagined they had deceived the citizens of Mazagan; at night they organized a ball and invited the Christians who wanted to adhere to their religion, without being recognized by their superiors.

The Christians came to the ball wearing masks and taking part of the poisoned food that they distributed to the enemies, who danced, drank and ate. On the following morning, the Moors found several animals dead in their farms together with leftovers that they had previously offered to the Mazagan population and then started to call the soldiers who still had a hangover and soon they could see that several soldiers were dead, including the supreme chief of the Moors, King Caldeira.

by David Braga

That ball is now reconstituted by Brazilian men of Mazagan, who dress properly and organize a magnificent ball where women and children are not allowed, so that their beliefs are not violated, showing the respect and zeal they have towards their history.

When visiting Mazagan during Saint James Festivity tourists feel as if they were taking a ride through time and history of a heroic, hospitable and kind people.

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