Markets, dance, music and storytelling
The weekly markets brighten daily life in Morocco. Many weekly markets are held in villages at the foot of the mountains, to enable the Berbers from the mountains to sell their produce and clothes and buy industrial goods. These are often places where you will see people in traditional costumes. At festivals, dances are performed in which the women and men dance in separate circles. The dance music is a monotonous repetition of simple melodies, often in question and answer form, with the circle repeating what is sang by the leader. Meanwhile the intensity of the music is steadily increased, through higher volume and faster rhythms. Gradually, the dancers become totally absorbed in the music, and slipping into a trance is not uncommon.
Exciting to watch are the performances of the gnaoua, mostly black dancers who perform acrobatic dances to the sound of large drums. They can be seen on Djemaa el-Fna square in Marrakech and at the festivals in the southern oases. Storytellers tour the villages and towns going from square to square to dish up thrilling or comical tales. Besides narrated stories, it is common to hear narrative songs, executed to the accompaniment of a stringed instrument, like our medieval minstrels. The Marrakech popular arts festival takes place in mid July at the Palais el-Badi for 5 days and features many of the aforementioned dancers, musicians and performers.
Islamic festive days
As the Islamic calendar is based on the observance of the moon, the festive days are in different days each year. In 20, the Eid al Adha (feast of sacrifice) is on ...Ramadan, a month of fasting, can be inconvenient for tourists, as many restaurants close and eating and drinking in public is not appreciated. However, tourists are catered for and looked after. It is obvious that it is not wise to eat in front of fasting people. In 2014, Ramadan is from June 28. The Eid al Fitr, the feast marking the end of fasting, is on 28 July. By the way, the Ramadan starts when the new moon is seen. Hence, it can start a day later than announced.
Fixed festive days
1 January (New Year’s Day), 1 May (Labour Day), 30 July (Throne Day of King Mohammed VI), 14 August (Day of the Territorial Integration of the Western Sahara), 21 August (Birthday of King Mohamed VI), 6 November (Commemoration of the Green March into the Western Sahara), 18 November (Independence Day).