Moussems range from religious holidays to trade fairs, and are celebrated in various parts of Morocco throughout the year. Above all, they are an occasion to get together with relatives and friends in a celebration of cultural identity.
Exchanges and spirituality
A moussem is above all a religious holidays where people come together, often travelling considerable distances, to celebrate and honour a saint. One of the most famous moussems is the one dedicated to betrothals which is celebrated each year in Imilchil.
This celebration commemorates a couple from rival tribes who prevented them from seeing each other. A sort of Moroccan Romeo and Juliet! Both ended up drowning in a lake of their own tears. Their families decided to establish one day per year during which men and women from different tribes could meet and perhaps marry. Today the celebration attracts thousands of visitors and tribes from different regions. Young men and women donning traditional outfits go around visiting each other from tent to tent, their parents intent on discussing and negotiating their potential marriage. Although this is an occasion for the celebration of betrothals , no marriages can be celebrated during this moussem.
Further south, towards Tan-Tan, you’ll find the camel market, a UNESCO World Intangible Heritage. Kelaat M’Gouna, close to Ouarzazate, is home to the moussem of roses. For visitors this is the perfect chance to buy creams, incense and Damascus rose perfumed toiletries.
Usually during a moussem people give thanks to a saint, a Sidi, a man of faith who left a lasting legacy during their time on earth, but a moussem may also be celebration of the seasons, harvests, for example the Erfoud date festival, at the gates to the desert, or the honey moussem of Immouzer Ida Outanane, close to Agadir.
There are also moussem which are essentially linked to culture and traditions, such as the desert music festival in Tafilalet, or the famous festival of the Gnaoua in Essaouira. The music and songs of these descendants of slaves entrance the public.
Participation in a moussem is a truly fascinating experience, whatever the theme or inspiration. Moussems are one of several occasions for visitors to experience the true essence of Morocco.