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The Neules Calendar

The tradition of paper doilies in Mallorca used as a Christmas decoration is called Neules.

Many moons ago, neules were hung in churches from a main lamp called the Solomon. Then, neules functioned as a kind of religious calendar helping the priest to let the poblers (villagers) know how many weeks and days would pass in that particular year, from Christmas Day to Dimecres de Cendra (Ash Wednesday), the first day of Cuaresma (Latin: quadragesima, Lent). Either the same number of neules were hung in the church as days were left until the first day of Lent, or larger neules were used for the number of weeks, with smaller neules being used for the remaining days. As the ecumenical year progressed towards cuaresma, neules were removed one by one to give the faithful congregation a clearer impression of the period getting shorter by the day. Clever, isn’t it?

Nowadays, hardly any parish cura uses the neules as a church calendar any longer. Instead, neules are now purely used for ornamental decoration purposes, and most churches put up an undetermined number of white paper cut-outs. In a way, it is a shame really that a charming tradition gets lost on the way.

Cuaresma in 2010 will start on Wednesday, February 17th, and will continue for 46 days until Saturday, April 3rd. Easter Sunday will be April 4th, 2010. This year, that makes 55 days from yesterday (Navidad) to Dimecres de Cendra, calling for 55 neules. Counting in weeks, that would have to be seven large neules, plus six smaller ones for the days.


I added the photo (bottom) a day later, showing the neules calendar with seven large neules and four smaller ones, taken on the Sunday after Christmas 2009 at the church of Sant Miquel in Felanitx.

The photo (top) was chosen from my archive. It was taken in Artà, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: January 5th, 2009. The time was 13:58:14. The photo (bottom) was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: December 27th, 2009. The time was 12:54:42.

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December 2009


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