Valencian mythology for All Saints' Eve

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The Valencian Community has a whole cultural and mythological tradition rooted in the Mediterranean culture that is worth knowing, claiming and perpetuating. It is a series of myths, traditions and legends that go far beyond the already world famous faults that have spread the Valencian culture (in spanish: cultura valenciana) of 'foc i fum', fire and smoke, to all corners of the world.

You only have to look at the cultural news of Valencia (noticias culturales de Valencia) to see how this land is in permanent cultural ferment. And while, as the good Mediterranean city that it is, it remains open to all innovations coming from all over the world, on the other hand, it sinks its roots deeply to continue showing and manifesting its own unique character.

Thus, the Valencian Community faces Halloween, a tradition imported from the United States, and takes a walk on All Saints' Eve, a whole series of characters and mythological monsters, typical of the oral tradition, legends, mythology and ultimately, the culture of the Valencian Community (cultura de la Comunidad Valenciana).

Which are the legendary monsters with which the Valencians of the past were frightened in their childhood?

On the eve of November 1st, Valencian families would gather to celebrate All Saints' Day, in memory of their deceased. These celebrations were far from the current Halloween celebrations. There were no costumes, no candy deliveries, no trick-or-treating, but a deep respect for the deceased family members.

However, there were stories and legends typical of the Valencian culture and oral tradition, which had nothing to do with zombies, vampires and other monsters of the Anglo-Saxon culture.

For some years now, the Museu Valencià d'Etnologia has been carrying out a campaign with the slogan "Espanta la por! Per Tots Sants, monstres valencians" (Scare away the fear! In All Saints, Valencian monsters). The main objective of this campaign is to claim, during the days prior to All Saints Day, the existence of a collective Valencian imagination of monsters of their own. In this way, the aim is to promote the reading of popular Valencian literature where these characters are the protagonists of rondallas and legends for the youngest ones. In this way, the perpetuation of the Valencian culture is intended, since these children, when they are older, will transfer these stories to their descendants. This initiative has been echoed in the main cultural news of Valencia.

 

From here we also want to collaborate by making a brief review of the main monsters and legends of the Valencian mythology 

Are you ready to be scared?

The Butoni

No, it's not a pizza. In fact, we don't really know what it looks like, although it is a regular character in the bestiary of the Valencian imagination. Sometimes he appears as a demon, sometimes as a monster, and sometimes as a terrifying beast. What is clear is that he has the ideal form to give fear, mainly, to the small children. 

Apparently, children who fear it will never see it, but it is not worth not believing in it, because those who do not believe in the Butoni, will be kidnapped by it. 

 

During the Middle Ages, it was used to scare children who behaved badly or were mischievous, where they were told that if they were not good, that is, if they did not obey without complaining to what they were ordered, the Butoni would come and take them away. 

The Butoni is one of the monsters that has permeated the popular culture, so much so that after the Spanish War of Independence, there was a police force that patrolled the city under the name of "Butoni's round". It was a patrol created by Captain General Elío. Apparently it received that name because of the way, the methods and the brute force with which it fought bandits and thugs.

The Moro Mussa

El Moro Mussa, also known in Alicante as "El Moro or El Morusso", and in the villages of La Ribera as "El Moro Mus", is one of the characters of the imaginary of the Valencian Community that also forms part of the history of La Valldigna. There is a traditional spell against the Moro Mussa.

 

Legend has it that the Moor Mussa was a monarch of the Muslim era, who lost his dominions after the conquest of Jaume I. In revenge, he harassed the children, and that is why he is used as a figure to frighten the little ones.

 

It is believed that this character was, in fact, Musa ibn Nusair, a Yemeni Muslim military leader, governor and general of the Umayyad caliphate in North Africa. Musa, at the age of 71, participated in the Muslim invasion of the Iberian Peninsula, being the first Vali of al-Andalus, ruling between 712 and 714.

 

The legend tells a story of an evil character who carries a snake and a black cat. After kidnapping a beautiful maiden, he becomes a fantastic being with a snake's tail and a dragon's head. He will end up facing Jaume Ferrisa, a Christian knight who will save the beautiful maiden.

The Tarasca

The Tarasca is one of the beasts that are taken out in the Corpus Christi processions to represent the evil one. It can be visited at the Corpus Christi Museum in Valencia. It is a mythological creature that has its origin in a legend about Santa Marta. It is a figure that comes out next to the rocks and is represented as a monster with the body of a turtle, six legs, a scorpion's tail and the head of a lion. 

Its origin comes from a medieval Provencal legend. This legend tells us that Saint Martha, Lazarus' sister, after Jesus' death, goes to Occitania and in the village of Tarascon, in French Provence, the local people ask her for help to defeat a monster known as the Tarasca. 

Santa Marta, armed only with holy water, manages to calm the beast and walks it tied to a leash throughout the town. However, they attack the docile creature, and kill it with impunity, even though the Tarasca does not put up any resistance.

The Quarantamaula

The Quarantamaula, Corantameula in Ontinyent, is a creature of demonic origin. It is a mysterious and fantastic being, typical of the Valencian imagination of fear. It was mainly used to frighten children who were not very obedient.

 

It is described as a monster half human and half chicken, with half of its body covered with feathers, long legs and neck like a vulture and which has its lair among the reed beds of the swamp. However, in other places, such as in the Vall d'Albaida region, it is said that it is a witch that looks like a cat and does what cats like best, climbing on the roofs. In this way she goes from house to house, making noise to frighten the children. In other areas she takes the form of a harmless snail. In any case, it always repeats the idea of being a creature that goes on the roofs and makes noise with stones against the windows in order to scare the children of the house. This creature that has so many forms reminds us that the forms of evil are infinite and even takes the body of harmless beings like a cat.





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