The festival is held every year in the two Spanish cities of Baza and Guadix in Granada on Sep. 6 and 9, respectively.
The tradition dates back to the 15th century, when a worker from Guadix nicknamed Cascamorras discovered a statue of the Virgin of Piedad (Our Lady of Mercy) in an ancient church in Baza.
Baza authorities prevented him from taking the statue, claiming it was theirs.
After much negotiation, the city of Baza said the city of Guadix could take the statue on a specific day each year, but only if its representative remained completely clean when they reached Baza’s Church of La Merced to pick up the statue.
Baza residents then try to stop the representative on the way by throwing paint – or in some versions of the tale, eggs, flour and olive oil – on them to make them as dirty as possible.
The Cascamorras festival is a recreation of this medieval event.
Every year, a person dressed in a bright outfit called “Cascamorras” travels three kilometers from Guadix to Baza on Sep. 6.
The Cascamorras waves a banner to symbolize the statue of the Virgin of Piedad and taunts the residents of Baza.
In modern times, residents from Baza follow Cascamorras and try to stain him using black grease, prompting him to return to Guadix unsuccessful in his mission to retrieve the statue three days later on Sep. 9.
In 2013, the Cascamorras festival was declared a Festival of International Tourist Interest in Spain.