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In Villena, the celebrations of Moors and Christians are celebrated from the 4 to the 9 of September in honor the Virgin of the Virtues. Its origin is in 1474, when the Virgin of the Virtues as Employer of the City and lawyer against the Plague was proclaimed. Its image was placed in a Sanctuary constructed in 1490 to 5 km of the city, to which the citizens made vote go twice in pilgrimage to the year, one in March and the other day 8 of September. In these pilgrimages it began to later participate in the century following the provincial militia of the city, well-known with the name of military. The Celebrations of Moors and Christians are the result of the old transformation of the Military one, that was created the provincial or concejil militia in 1562 by Felipe II and who accompanied to the Virgin in the two pilgrimages and the procession shooting the arquebuses in the form of safe. In Villena, the military one is documented either in 1586 and 1638 or participated in the pilgrimages.

At the beginning of century XIX the embassies, whose texts were written between 1810 and 1815, and the primitive company added themselves that formed the militia gave rise to the puppet of Christians, appearing at the same time one second puppet, the one of Moors. But in these puppets the elements characteristic of the old provincial militias, as they are the captain positions, of lieutenant and end, the arquebuses and the safe ones of arquebus factory, and the rotation of flags stayed unaltered.

Indeed, it was in the first third of century XIX when the first castle of embassies was constructed, although already in century XVIII the two older puppets, the one of Christians and the one of Moors existed. After each one of the two Embassies, there was a guerrilla with arquebus factory, winning the Moors in the first and Christians in second, becoming to the Christianity the Ambassador Moor the act of the Conversion, that conserved a text written in century XVII and published in the XVIII. In 1838 already the portrait of Mahoma was engaged in of Bihar, that was placed in the castle of embassies after the first Embassy and Guerrilla, in whom the Moors win, to be retired of this castle when winning the Christians after the second Embassy. In that same year, due to the expulsion of the friars of the Sanctuary as a result of the Confiscation, one begins to bring the Virgin to the city in September, instead of being the neighbors those that moved to the Sanctuary. The 18-4-1839 was created the Meeting of the Virgin to organize the religious acts and the celebrations were reconstructed. In 1845 already they are documented as “Celebrations of Moors and Christians” and in 1848 it were determined the festero scheme that basically has stayed unaltered until now. In 1863 3 puppets existed, that already were 9 in 1884, but was in 1956 when it was established the total number of 14, that is those that exists at present. Of them, 7 belong to the side Moor (Old Moors, New Moors, Realistic Bando Marroquí, Moors, Berber and Pirate Nazaríes Moors, Moors) and other 7, to the Christian side (Students, Marinos Corsarios, Andalusians, Farmers, Crossbowmen, Almogávares and Cristianos).

In the middle of century XIX scheme added to festero before described parades of Morning call and Retreat, in addition to appear more old of great parades of celebrations, Entrance, whose initial purpose was the one from which all the puppets went to the outskirts to receive the Virgin, who came in pilgrimage from her Sanctuary, with Safe of Arquebus factory and later accompanying it until the church by Santiago also shooting the arquebuses. In 1955 it appeared the great parade nocturne of the Cavalcade, as well as the one of Ofrenda of flowers to the Virgin and the new positions of Councilwoman of Celebrations and Godmothers of each one of the puppets. In the following years they began to appear within the Special Puppets Escuadras, that changed of suit every year and which they have gotten to shine lujosísimos suits in years “80 and “90. To the Meeting of the Virgin the Central Meeting of Celebrations of Moors and Christians was added the 2-1-1970, that was when his were approved first Statutes. That same year appeared the Infantile Parade and Ecuador Festero and, in 1977 the scene of the embassies moves to the Castillo of the Watchtower. In 1988 it begins to participate the woman in the celebration, which supposes a spectacular increase in the number of festeros.

In the general context of the celebrations of Moors and Christians, those of Villena are characterized by their participation discharge, since dated 4-9-1995 there were 10,594 festeros, of which 9,843 were salient, which supposes nothing less than 32 ' 71% of the total population of Villena. This means that almost one of each three villeneros belongs to some puppet and, therefore, participates actively in the celebrations. To them it is necessary to add the musicians who, distributed in some 80 bands, elevate to thirteen thousand people those who participate in the parades.

As singular acts within the Celebration it is necessary to indicate the spectacular and massive Cavalcade, with an average of two thousand festeros per hour and magnificent ends and special squares; the Embassies, within the framework natural of Castillo of the Watchtower and with texts of principles of century XIX, constitute the historical part of the celebrations; the Conversion of the Moro al Cristianismo whose text, although reformed at the beginning of this century, dates from century XVII, was published in the XVIII and is one of the comedies of Moors and Christians of the Century of Gold who then as much imagined; the Entrance; the Procession, solemn and equal of massive which the rest of the parades, and the Dawn, that announces the day of the Employer. But the celebration is not developed only by the day, but also it continues during all night the verbenas and nightclubs of all the puppets.

But the celebrations of Villena are known in the rest of festera geography, mainly by two things: the special squares and the ends. What better he identifies to the celebrations of Villena within the present development of the celebrations of Moors and Christians are the special squares, that embellish them and constitute an important part within the celebrations, because their suits are designed, made and worn for the first time every year in Villena, unlike which happens in other populations. 40 special squares march past every year some and its number is limited within each puppet a square by each one hundred festeros, in order that they are sufficient mind represented the traditional suits of the puppets. And the ends, the ends of Villena have an own and matchless style. They are artists, who infect to the public their good one for doing, their talent and its art; because art is they create it and what they radiate.

But the best thing of the celebrations of Villena is the festeros, that know to march past with an enthusiasm that only is in no other place. They are those that especially make that the parades of Villena are a matchless spectacle, the cavalcade at night of day 6 of September, infecting their joy to the public that sees them, from the 9 at night to the 4 of the dawn. And they cause mainly that the nights of celebrations in Villena are unforgettable, in the nightclubs of the Troy and of She ponders It, in which the night with the day connects as if a dream it was. All this motivated that the celebrations of Villena were declared of tourist interest.

The celebrations of Moors and Christians of Villena are organized by the M.I City council of Villena through the Council of celebrations, in collaboration with two beings deprived without profit spirit, being the basic assignment of each of these organizations the following one:

• The City council of Villena: ordered of the organization of logistics and administrative; diffusion of the events, coordination with the Central Meeting of Celebrations and the meeting of the Virgin and, coverall, of those functions related to the protocol and the public relations
• The Central Meeting of Celebrations, organism that groups to the 14 festeras organizations and that takes care of regulating and organizing all those acts in which participate to the Christian and Moors puppets of.
• The Meeting of the Virgin, whose function she is the organization of all those religious acts in which the employer is active protagonist as they are the pilgrimages, procession, novenas…

Source: M.I.Ayuntamiento de Villena