TRADITIONAL dances, processions and fireworks are just some of the offerings during this weekend of celebrations around el 9 d’octubre the day of the Valencian people.
One may also have noticed the delicacy of marzipan fruits in cakeshop windows, but wherever you are in the Valencia region it will be hard not to come across some part of the festivities.
So why is 9th October so important to Valencians?
It commemorates the entrance into the city of Valencia in 1238 of the King of Aragón, Jaume I El Conquistador and the forming of the KIngdom of Valencia. The tradition for celebrating this day dates back to the XIV century, however, since 1976 it has been a contemporary institutional celebration and in 1982 was included in the statutes of the regional government as the Día de la Comunidad Valenciana.
The day is marked with festivals, processions, dances, all manner of social gatherings as well as fireworks during the day and the night. There are towns which put on low-key events while others really push the boat out. Many events have a medieval twist, such as La Pobla de Vallbona, where the town holds a medieval market for three days, including jousting and falconry events and even appoints its own King and Queen for the duration of the festivities, to represent Jaume I and his queen Violant of Hungary.
The legend goes that King Jaume and his army, from Catalonia and Aragón, were camped on the outskirts of Valencia, which they wanted to take from the Moors who had control of the city at that time. One night there was a strange noise in the camp and one of the guards ran to wake the king, who told his army to be alert. Luckily he did, as they discovered the Moorish army was hiding nearby planning a surprise attack. The battle that ensued saw many Moorish casualties and Jaume was able to ride into Valencia victorious.
After the battle it was discovered that a bat which had become caught inside a tent had made the strange noise, and out of gratitude to the creature Jamie included the bat in the city’s shield, where it remains today as well as on the shield of Valencia CF.
However, taking a look at Jaume’s coat of arms at the time we see it clearly depicts a dragon, after all he was King of Aragón and the patron saint of Aragón was George, he of dragon slaying fame. The bat seems to have appeared later and obviously the story of a bat alerting the king to danger works well for a legend, a dragon certainly wouldn’t have been so believable.
And it doesn’t stop there, in case you hadn’t noticed, the shield of the Valencia government looks like a traced outline of Jaume’s shield.