Sant Honorat, Sant Antoni and Sant Sebastià are very big news during the month of January, here on this island.
With Christmas, New Year and the Reyes Magos (Epiphany) behind us, Mallorca is now focusing on its January saints. Sant Honorat was celebrated in Algaïda yesterday, whilst Sant Antoni is celebrated today (January 17th) all over the island. If the truth be told, festivities already started the day after the Three Kings, on January 7th. Sant Antoni foguerons or bonfires are lit and effigies of dimoni devils will be burned. As soon as the bonfires have died down, barbecues are prepared over the hot embers. Often meat and sausages with Pan payés bread is dished out for free by the village elders, together with some locally made vino tinto. Do join in. This is a good way to get to meet some local people, Mallorcan or migrants like ourselves. This is also a good way to get to know some local traditions that are inbred into the communities that we are part of, whilst living here.
One essential part of Sant Antoni festivities is a procession of carriages called beneïdes or animal blessings. This is an important event throughout Mallorca as everyone with an animal, from children carrying birds in cages, adults with dogs and cats on leads, farmers with sheep and goats, to smartly bedecked riders with their beautifully groomed horses parade past the local priest for their animals to receive the seasonal blessings. Most beneïdes will be celebrated either today or tomorrow.
A particular variation of Sant Antoni festivities is held every year in Pollença, said to go back to medieval times. The village youths gather for an outing into the surrounding hills in search of a nice and straight pine tree, El Pi de Sant Antoni. This year, a prime pine tree was found in the Ternelles mountain area, and duly felled. The pine tree (without bark or branches) will be hauled back to the pueblo today to be erected in Pollença’s Plaça Vell. This evening, Pollença’s most daring males will set out to climb the greased pole to the top. The lucky winner will take the prize, a gallo. In the old days, the trophy would have been the hand of a village maiden.
Palma joins in the Sant Antoni fiestas, but goes even better with Sant Sebastià, the patron saint of the island capital. That festivity is celebrated January 20th, again with a programme of activities lasting a good fortnight and already in full swing.
The photo was chosen from my archive. It was taken in Manacor, Mallorca, Balares, Spain. The date: January 16th, 2008. The time was 13:35:50.