Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year

Happy New Year 5769 to my Jewish visitors (hi, Mike).

The Jewish festival of Rosh Hashanah – the name means “Head of the Year” – is observed for two days beginning on 1 Tishrei, the first day of the Jewish year. It is the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve, the first man and woman.

I understand that the festival actually began at dusk yesterday, and will carry through until tomorrow, October 1st (2 Tishrei). Happy holidays.

I also understand that Honey cake is one of the many traditional foods eaten during the High Holidays. Yum.

The photo shows the front door of the Synagogue in Palma de Mallorca.

The photo was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. The date: September 6th, 2008. The time was 14:55:23.

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year

The Mallorcan Shepherd Dog

The Ca de Bestiar or Mallorcan Shepherd Dog is often mistaken for a Black Labrador or a Labrador mix, but is in fact a pure breed dog. The Ca de Bestiar is a working farm dog. You will not find many campesinos in Mallorca breeding sheep who do not rely on this very dependable shepherd dog.

The origins of the Mallorcan Shepherd Dog are not clear, but there are those who claim that the dogs were brought to the island in 1229 as part of the fleet of Jaume I. The Ca de Bestiar certainly looks similar to the Catalan Shepherd Dog.

In any case, the Mallorcan Club del Ca de Bestiar organizes annually a number of Ca de Bestiar dog shows throughout  the island, during the Firas of Andratx, Santa Maria, Costitx, Sineu, Biniamar, Alaró, Alcúdia, Artà, Vilafranca, Calvià, Sa Pobla, Montuiri, and others. Yesterday, the XV Exposició Monogràfica del Ca de Bestiar was held in the pueblo of Maria de la Salut to the delight of an animated crowd.

The dog shown in my photo was the winner of the female category in yesterday’s dog show. The overall winner yesterday was a male dog carrying the number 19, not shown here. ¡Enhorabuena!

The photo was taken in Maria de la Salut, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: September 28th, 2008. The time was 13:26:16.

The Mallorcan Shepherd Dog

The King of Mallorca

Whilst Mallorca this year celebrates the 800th anniversary of Rei Jaume I‘s birth in 1208, he never was the King of Mallorca. Jaume I is credited with the Re-Conquista in 1229, when at the age of 21 he took the island of Mallorca back from the hands of the Moors. He came to Mallorca as the King of Aragón.

His younger son Jaume II was crowned as the first King of Mallorca after the conqueror’s death in 1276. Between 1295 and 1300, eleven pueblos were founded under Jaume II: Algaida, Binissalem, Campos, Felanitx, Llucmajor, Manacor, Montuïri, Porreres, Sa Pobla, Selva and Santanyí, to accommodate Mallorca’s growing population. Jaume II died in 1311, at the age of 68 years.

Jaume II was buried in the cathedral of Palma de Mallorca. In 1779, the sarcophagus (shown in this photo) was created on orders of King Carlos III, to hold the remains of the first Mallorcan King. The Catalan artist Antoni Gaudí had the sarcophagus removed in 1904, though, as he wanted to design new tombs for the kings of Mallorca, as part of his plans to redesign Palma’s cathedral, but Gaudí’s tombs were never made. Instead, Jaume II and Jaume III were reburied in 1946 in neogothic crypts inside the Capilla de la Trinidad, again in the cathedral.

The interim sarcophagus is now vacant and can be seen on exhibition at the Museu Diocesà in Palma.

The photo was chosen from my archive. It was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: April 11th, 2008. The time was 13:22:47.

The King of Mallorca

Belly Dances in Mallorca

During a visit to the Mercado Medieval in Manacor, a week ago, I was surprised to suddenly be confronted by a group of young ladies, festively clad in what appeared to be oriental dresses.

I later found out that the females belonged to a group presenting Danza Oriental, also known as Danza del Vientre. The set-up is called Raks al Sahara, and they impart classes in belly dancing and such like to a willing audience of dance students, beginners, males and females, from the tender age of 12 on, and up. They also perform at parties, weddings, social gatherings, festivities and what have you, where a bit of music, fun and colourful ambience is wanted.

More information can be had from telephones 658.577.141 or 659.804.242.

The photo was taken in Manacor, Mallorca, Spain. The date: September 20th, 2008. The time was 18:04:41.

Belly Dances in Mallorca

Ecology in Esporles

Starting today, the Jornadas de Agroecología de Mallorca will take place from September 26th to 28th in Esporles, north west of Palma de Mallorca.

Most people know Esporles from the nearby Sa Granja, originally a Cistercian convent, and today used as a museum finca. A visit there is rewarding not only for the estate’s lovely gardens and the splendid main house but also for the wide range of exhibits relating to everyday life on a traditional Mallorcan estate, such as wool dying, an iron smith workshop, candle making, carpenter workshop, laundry washrooms, a copper smith workshop, plus subterranean dungeons from the dark times of the Inquisition, including some torture instruments.

At Sa Granja you can also find the Teix de Sa Granja d’Esporles, an exemplary yew tree (Taxus baccata), shown in the photo. This unique tree has a height of 10 m and is said to be between 800 and 1,000 years old, possibly even more. Some agro-ecology in Mallorca does indeed go back a long way.

The photo was taken from the internet; it is credited with Govern de les Illes Balears. Moltes gràcies.

Ecology in Esporles

The Pont Romà

There is one bridge on the island that can claim a history of about 2,000 years. It is called the Pont Romà, and you can find it in Pollença.

The bridge crosses the Torrent de Sant Jordi which might well have been a proper river at the time of the Romans, considering that the added breakwater reinforcement was quite obviously thought indispensable.

The current state of preservation of the Pont Romà is surprisingly good, considering its age, and in particular the narrow, cobbled road across the bridge. Why not stroll across it, next time there is an autumnal torrent washing down from the Tramuntana mountains?

The photo was taken in Pollença, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: September 3rd, 2008. The time was 17:18:33.

The Pont Romà

Madre Alberta Giménez

Doña Gaietana Alberta Giménez Adrover was a teacher, who was appointed in 1870 as director of the Colegio de la Pureza de María in Palma de Mallorca, a school founded in 1809 by the Bishop of the Diocese, Don Bernardo Nadal.

When Doña Alberta was appointed as head of the Colegio, it had been a boys only school, as were all schools in Mallorca at that time. However, she managed to transform the school by emphasizing the importance of giving a solid education to girls as well, just as you would to boys. Thanks to Madre Alberta, girls in Mallorca were now offered a proper school education for the first time ever. Doña Alberta held the position as the school’s director until 1916, six years before she died.

To this day, the Colegio de la Pureza de María in Palma continues as a very highly thought of school. Thousands of Mallorcan families send their children there, both girls and boys, for the high level of academic skills that are taught, as do a few hundred foreign families as well, including Japanese, Arab and many others.

The exceptional Madre Alberta had long since passed away, when some 30 years ago, a private University was also founded by the Colegio de la Pureza de María, on the outskirts of Palma, called Centre Universitari Alberta Giménez. Young ladies and young men can study languages there, journalism or audiovisual communication. How about that?

Pope John Paul II declared Gaietana Alberta Giménez Adrover an heroic woman. I declare her an exceptional woman, for being way ahead of her time. Well done, Madre Alberta (whose mother, by the way, was from Felanitx).

The photo was chosen from my archive. It was taken at the old Colegio de la Pureza de María in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain, now partly accessible as a museum. The date: May 30th, 2005. The time was 16:09:26.

Madre Alberta Giménez