The most widely version about the origin of this celebration is related to the arrival of Almohads in 1151, when many temples were demolished, including a Mozarab hermitage built in the Curra suburb in Baza. Three centuries later, one of the knights who accompanied Fernando El Católico, Mr. Luis de Acuña Herrera decided to build La Merced Church in that place. The construction was started in 1490 when the accitano Juan Pedernal, by breaking a piece of gypsum, heard a sweet and pitiful shout from the hole, which seemed to come from the earth core and said: “HAVE MERCY ON ME!” He found a statue of a Virgin, who was called Nuestra Señora de la Piedad since them, alluding to that expression.
The Guadix worker caused serious inconveniences for the other workers after competing for the possession of the statue, which implicated the authorities of the two cities. The law of the time was obliged to intervene and decided to give the possession and property of the statue to Baza people and the right to celebrate annually the religious events on 8th September, when the feast of the Virgen de la Piedad takes place, to the Guadix City Council. It is also told there was an agreement through which Guadix could recover the statue whether a commissioner of Guadix reached to come into Baza and arrived at the church without getting dirty. Therefore, Guadix people went every year in romeria to celebrate the religious event, which was rightfully theirs. A number of people usually went to Baza accompanied by a jester, who was generally a small and ugly person whose mission was to distract his lords with jokes or silly things. It is believed that this jester was the precursor to current “Cascamorras” and it is reasonable to believe that servant, in charge of the rescue, was angry because of the jokes and laughs of the children who went there to get him dirty. That is probably the reason because he tried to defend himself with bags tied to a stick.
Nowadays, an accitano volunteers to embody the Cascamorras character, as a promise, and to try to arrive at La Merced church in Baza without getting dirty, in order to get the statue of the Virgen de la Piedad for Guadix people.
He wears a colourful dress, as if were a jester, and he carries a flag with the image of the Virgin and a “cachiporra” as the sole defence tool. He goes to Baza on 5th September at midnight, with the difficult mission to get and bring the Virgen de la Piedad to Guadix for her celebrations on 8th September.
His arrival to Baza takes place on 6th September in the afternoon and basketanos (people from Baza) welcome him at 18 p.m. to accompanied him till the church. During the tour, basketanos try to get him dirty to avoid the Virgin is brought to Guadix. If unsuccessful, celebrations will take place in Baza on 8th ans 9th September. Cascamorras should come back to his native Guadix, where he is received by annoyed Guadix people. They stain him again because he couldn’t carry out the ordered mission: to bring the Virgen de la Piedad to Guadix.
This celebration is open to all who want to accompany Cascamorras. In so doing, the following recommendations should be taken into account: to inform themselves in advance about the tour; to wear old clothes for getting rid it off once the celebration is finished; to moisturise the clear areas of the skin with olive oil, comfortable shoes for running and walking for 2 hours approximately; a ribbon and/or a cap to cover the hair and avoid something come into their eyes, to plan a place where we could clean all the dye from our body.