The festival began in 1263
Sunday, sixty days after Easter is the day of a celebration that was considered as “the great festival” of the city. Beyond the Catholic religious perspective, Corpus Christi is a demonstration of the coexistence of the religious, symbolic, metaphorical, festive spirit in Valencian society.
The festival began in 1263, but it was not until 1355 that the Bishop of Valencia, Hugo de Fenollet, (who, just five years before had baptised San Vicente Ferrer) instigated the procession.
SUNDAY CORPUS PROGRAM
12PM THE CABALGATA DEL CONVITE MOUNTED PARADE
El Capellá de les Roques:
One of the most popular local characters. He represents the church and his mission is to invite the people to participate in the celebrations. He rides a horse decorated with a black velvet blanket, bordered with the city coat of arms, as he travels through the city he is cheered by the people in the streets or from their balconies.
Local dance companies perform traditional allegorical dances to the music of the dolçaina and the tabalet. The most famous is 'La Moma i els Momos'. La Moma is the central character and is played by a man dressed as a woman, with a white tunic and a white handkerchief covering his face, the dance represents the fight against the seven deadly sins. Els Momos wear black masks, black and yellow suits, colourful hats in the shape of dragons. This attractive dance uses sticks and concludes when the virtue of La Moma wins the day. Other traditional dances are: La Magrana, Els Caballets, Els Arquets, Els Llauradors, Els Pastorets and Els Turcs.
The Dance of the “Nanos” and the “Gegants”:
A ritual dance that dates as far back as 1588; four pairs of Gegants (giants) and three pairs of Nanos (dwarves) dance to the rhythm and melody of the Tabalet and the Dolçaina (tambourine and flute).The Gegants symbolise faith in the Eucharist throughout the world. The coming together of the Nanos and the Gegants shows that people of all kinds adore and worship the Lord.
In this curious ceremony, the members of the Amics del Corpus Association walk through the Caballeros and Avellanas streets, people throw buckets of water over them and a light hearted water fight ensues.
4:30PM THE CARRIAGES PARADE
These beautifully decorated carriages were built as mobile stages for the performance of Els Misteris – The Mysteries of Christ plays, acted out during the procession. There are 11 of the wooden structures built in the form of ancient boats; they have carved sculptures representing biblical figures and Saints. They were originally built between 1373 and 1392.
7PM THE SOLEMN PROCESSION
The Senyera (the city flag) leads the procession, flanked by Les Banderoles (pennants or standards), carried by the three Reyes de Armas (Kings of Arms), wearing crowns, wigs and white beards. Behind them comes the Cruz Arzobispal (the Archbishop’s Cross) from the Cathedral and the Candeleros (candle holders). There are also representatives of various historic parishes and the Carpenter’s Guild.
This group is followed by a series of symbolic and biblical characters:
Finally, we have the Custodia (the Monstrance). The central element of the Valencian Corpus Christi and the majestic climax of the festival, the Monstrance is escorted by a squad from the army and flanked by the Mancebos (six young men dressed in 16th century style velvet and silk); they carry silver spikes and bunches of grapes. As the Monstrance passes by, a dense shower of petals falls from the balconies of the houses.