Yecla, in Murcia, celebrates the fiestas of the Virgen del Castillo at the beginning of December. The procession with the statue of the Virgin on the 8th is the crowning moment of these festivities. The noise of arquebuses (an old firearm shot by lighting a fuse with gunpowder) can be heard throughout the parade, and also during a large part of the celebrations, which date back to 1642. That year, a group of soldiers made their way up to the Virgen del Castillo Sanctuary to give thanks after returning to their homes safe and sound after the war.
The event begins with the Blessing on 5 December. In the evening, squads of soldiers taking part in the fiesta invite local residents to join in the celebrations. The opening speech, the Kissing of the Flag, various cultural acts, the floral offering, the procession down from the Sanctuary with the Virgin and her subsequent return, go to form the rest of the programme. Participants wear a regulation uniform of a black hat with corners. Salvos in honour of the Virgin are shot with harquebuses.
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