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This travellers blog is where you will find many things - latest news, the musings of our experienced staff and much more. We plan also to use it as a pictorial knowledge. Let us know if you would like "how to" instructions and we will put them here.

Celebrating festivals in Mallorca Back to News

Tuesday 18th January | Posted by On Foot Staff

It is heart-warming to know that despite the difficulties of the past two years, people are finding ways to safely celebrate festivals in the traditional way.

Jesca, our local contact in Mallorca, has been telling us about the recent feast day of Sant Antoni on 17th January. He is the patron saint of animals, and is remembered with a blessing of the animals in Jesca’s home village of Es Capdellà, the starting point of our walking route, where the almond trees are already blossoming.

Following fast on the heels of Sant Antoni is San Sebastià, whose feast day is a few days later. It’s an occasion for many days of festivities in the city of Palma (above), and Jesca sent us a description of how the day will be celebrated this year in her village:

“The celebration of San Sebastià is a particularly significant event for the villagers of Es Capdellà, and we shall be celebrating it in the traditional way with a solemn mass at the local church followed by bonfires and a ‘torrada’ with friends, which involves the grilling of plenty of red meat over the flame consumed with lots of red wine!

“In traditional years we do this as a community at the Plaza Sa Vinya on almond wood lit in steel drums with a grill on the top provided by the local Town Hall (sadly not possible as a community this year because of covid restrictions, but we shall do so privately in our gardens with family and friends).  The array of meat on the grills is spectacular and there is much joviality as old and young villagers enjoy the fun of grilling the meat and sharing each others wonderful assortment of steak, pork loin, pancetta and the delicious local pork sausages: sobrassada, botifarra, chorizo, longaniza, chistorra.  It is a truly ‘meat feast’ event – not for vegetarians!

“It is worth remembering the origin of this annual event, which has special significance for Es Capdellà going back a little over 100 years. Coinciding with the eve of Sant Sebastià, on the evening of 19th January 1918, and with the Spanish flu epidemic at the gates of the town, the local doctor who then lived in Es Capdellà ordered the neighbours to light bonfires with green firewood (alimaras), since the smoke from the combustion would help stop the deadly virus. Be that as it may, the truth is that it worked, and while in Calvià town nearby the flu had wreaked havoc, in Es Capdellà no one died. Since then, every 19th of January in the afternoon an ‘alimara’ is lit – a tradition that lasted during the monarchy of Alfonso XIII, the Second Republic, the Civil War, the Franco dictatorship and the return of Democracy. This year, as last year,  I am sure there will be a special prayer sent up by us all to keep the villagers in good health whilst we endure another year of Covid-19.”

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