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The Old Jaia Corema Lady


The period of Lent, starting today (Ash Wednesday), is called Corema in Mallorca (Quaresma in Catalan, Cuaresma in Spanish). The word originates from the Latin word quadragesima, meaning forty days [before Easter]. Of course, Lenten customs in Mallorca are no longer marked by the restraint of years gone by.

Yesterday saw the Enterro de Sa Sardina (the burial of the Sardine) to signify the beginning of Lent. One of the old traditions was to bury a backbone of pork called “sardina” in Spanish as a symbol of fasting. According to some experts the name was confused though and the pork was later changed for a fish.


At one time, Mallorcans hung a figure with seven legs known as Jaia Corema (Quaresma Vella, Old Mother Lent) in their houses and, as Lent progressed, a leg was tugged from it each week. This custom is still maintained in some primary schools and nurseries in Mallorca, certainly in the Part Forana (all of the island apart from Palma), a simple and entertaining way for children to measure the time until the Easter celebrations and the return of less monotony in their madre‘s cooking diversity.


My children were taught this custom in their respective guarderías and colegios, years ago. That’s why I wanted to share this information with you, even though I cannot offer you a photo of my own making. When I went to the Felanitx parish church last Sunday to take a photo of the Jaia Corema, I couldn’t find one. I asked why and was told that the Jaia had been there but was moved prematurely by the Sacerdote (priest). Sorry.

The images were taken from the Internet. My thanks go out to (from top to bottom): Piikkiö Junior High School in Finland (, Farcint la Faixa in Catalunya (, and Montse Escoi Martínez from the Racó Tic blog ( Moltes gràcies.

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