Changing The Guard

A new tourist attraction was created in Palma de Mallorca a few months ago, the recreation of a historical military changing of the guard. I went to Palma yesterday to watch the show and, yes, I was reasonably impressed.

It all goes back to 1808 when the Regimiento de Voluntarios de Palma was established due to Spain’s involvement in the Guerra de la Independencia, with France and Napoleon being on the other side. The Regimiento de Infantería Ligera Palma 47 is the successor of the old volunteers; they are nowadays based at Palma’s Palau de l’Almudaina. Guards and soldiers of this Light Infantry Regiment now put on historic uniforms once a month to, on the last Saturday of the month, perform the historic ritual of the Relevo de la Guardia de Honor (Changing of the Guard). The colourful ceremony starts at 12h00 sharp with the exception of the summer months of July and August when, for reasons of excessive lunchtime heat, the guards will change at the more suitable hour of 19h30. Whilst upholding the traditions of the past for one day per month, the soldiers also perform duties throughout the island and indeed, Spain, as professional army personnel and are known as some of the most skilled soldiers in the Fuerzas Armadas (Spanish Army).

A visit is recommended. Early attendance would allow you a better view. The performance is reenacted in front of the Almudaina Palace, between the Palau and the Cathedral. Admission is free.

The photo (top) was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: January 30th, 2010. The time was 12:14:16. The photo (bottom) was taken from the Internet. My thanks go to diariodemallorca.es and the photographer, Lorenzo.

Muchas gracias.

Changing The Guard

The Full Moon Almond Blossoms

I forgot to tell you that the Jewish festival of Tu Bishvat, the New Year of the Trees, always coincides with the full moon. January’s full moon in Mallorca could already be admired yesterday, and what a lovely moon we had. Apparently, this January full moon is bigger and brighter than average due to the greater proximity of the moon’s perigee, i. e. the elliptical orbit of the moon brings our lunar satellite nearer to earth than at other times. And as a bonus, Mars could be seen just to the left of the moon last night. The reddish, star-like object, that’s Mars.

This full moon concurs with this year’s almond blossom. The blossoming is out for real now, as you can see from my photo (above), taken a couple of days ago near Porreres. Another wonderful sight. As I have explained before, the moon has always played an important role in Mallorca’s rural society. Here, the lunar almanac dictates the schedule of agricultural events to a much larger extent than the solar calendar, and has done so ever since the Moorish period if not even before. What clever people they were then, and how clever the farmers still are, today.

Happy New Year of the Trees, everybody.

The photo was taken near Porreres, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: January 28th, 2010. The time was 12:46:14.

The Full Moon Almond Blossoms

Son Negre

Son Negre is a rural llogaret pertaining to the municipality of Felanitx. I estimate that perhaps 120 people live in its vicinity but I may be out by a figure of up to one hundred, either way. The small Església de Sant Antoni shown in the photo (above) was built by the Son Negre folk themselves in 1816-17, as was the small village school building, in 1925.

I don’t suppose you want to make your way to Son Negre  any time soon, but if you should, you would be treated with great courtesy and a warm welcome. Tonight, January 29th, for instance, you could enjoy the amateur performance of a play, a Comèdia in fact (‘Sa Madona duu es maneig‘), at 21h00, performed by the very people of this small Mallorcan pueblo. Admission is free. Tomorrow, January 30th, the villagers will attend a short church service at 20h00, followed by the traditional
 fogueró in honour of Sant Antoni, in front of the Escola de Son Negre, with plenty of food such as pa, llonganissa, botifarrons, panxeta and llom, plus ample supplies of wine, all gratuïts. Inside the school building, ball de saló will be performed, whilst outside, you could have some fun watching, or participating in, some ball de bot. On Sunday, January 31st, you will have a chance to witness the Beneïdes (blessing of the animals), in front of the Església de Son Negre, at 15h00.

The photo (below) shows the Beneïdes activities in Son Negre, ca. 1919.

The photo (top) was taken near Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: January 20th, 2010. The time was 13:20:24. The photo (bottom) was taken from the Internet, courtesy of sonnegre.es and its webmaster, Antoni Company.

Moltes gràcies.

Son Negre

New Palma Buses Are Less Polluting

There’s good news in Palma. About a week ago, EMT, the municipal bus company in Palma, launched a fleet of 12 new buses, all running on natural gas. The new vehicles are powered with compressed natural gas. We are convincingly told that the new buses are much quieter than the old ones, thus causing less noise pollution for everybody’s benefit. The buses are also said to be 25 % less polluting in low carbon monoxide than the current fleet, and much lower in other smog-forming emissions (80 % in particles and 90 % in nitrogen oxide), making the city more environmentally sustainable in a big way. The new fleet of gas powered buses is seen as a pioneering pilot project that will serve throughout the Illes Balears for future vehicle purchases in municipalities all over the islands.

Anything that brings down noise and smog and pollution is welcome by me and my family. If changing our lightbulbs can help the environment, changing to less polluting buses must really make a difference, wouldn’t you have thought?

The photo was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: January 27th, 2010. The time was 15:11:23.

New Palma Buses Are Less Polluting

Green Mallorca

Even though Winter is seemingly a passive time in nature, with the countryside apparently dormant, appearances can be deceptive. Mallorcan farmers are rather busy planting their potatoes and tomatoes, pruning their vines or olive trees, sowing their crop of cereals, tending their almond trees and generally preparing the land. And there is the small matter of the harvest of citrus fruit, such as oranges, tangerines, lemons, grapefruit, limes, kumquat and such like. Other plants, as you know, are bursting forward with first buds, early blossoms and new life, yearning for Spring.

The Jewish community, or what little is left of it in Mallorca, is getting ready for Tu Bishvat, one of the four ‘New Years’ mentioned in the Mishnah. January 30th is this year’s date for the ‘New Year of the Trees’. Of course, in the Jewish calendar, a holiday begins at sunset of the previous day, thus, observing Jews will celebrate Tu Bishvat on the sunset of Friday, January 29th, here and elsewhere. Traditionally, trees are planted on this holiday. Customs include eating dried fruits and nuts, especially figs, dates, prunes, raisins, carob, and almonds. In Israel, as in Mallorca, the flowering of the almond tree coincides with Tu Bishvat.

Non-Jewish Mallorcan farmers this year observe January 27th for the planting of pear trees and acacias, January 29th for the planting of oak trees and castanyers (chestnuts), February 18th for the planting of cherry trees and the teix (common yew tree), and March 9th for the planting of codonyers (quince trees). As a general rule, now is the season for tree planting. You can’t really go wrong, as long as you don’t plant palm trees.

The very useful Sa Plaça Calendari Mallorqui 2010 is available from local newsagents for the reasonable outlay of 5 €. It is an almanac for organic farming, including a practical bio-dynamic calendar.

The photo was taken near Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: November 29th, 2009. The time was 15:26:18.

Green Mallorca

The End Of An Era

The Plaça de Bous de la Macarena (bullfight arena) in Felanitx has been a continuous venture ever since 1914. One day a year, at Sant Agustí (August 28th), the town’s patron saint’s day, a traditional novillada would be performed, mostly involving five or six young bulls. Last year was the first year on record in peacetime when no such spectacle could be held for reasons of public health and safety. The arena is in a pretty bad state of repair, due to its old age, and in particular the emergency exits seem to be in an unacceptable condition. The current licensee, a company from Catalunya, did not consider it viable to spend vast amounts of money for a one-day-a-year event, and had asked the local town hall to chip in some of the funds for the repair work needed. The Felanitx ajuntament duly declined. No works were carried out last year and the license for the activity has since been withheld by the Consell de Mallorca.

The deal between a previous licensee and the municipal owners appears to have stated that the use of the bullring would revert back to the town if, at any one time, a bullfight or similar activity was not be held at the Macarena during a full calendar year. This clearly was the case in 2009, and now the Felanitx town hall wants to reclaim the ownership of the bullring. The licensee, however, appears to want to sell the rights to the property. Felanitx is now said to be considering starting legal proceedings and a possible attempt at expropriation has not been ruled out.

At the same time, a speaker for the ajuntament has declared that it is not the intention to ever hold taurine activities again at the municipal arena. This may have been the end of an era, already. Perhaps it was inevitable, after all.

The photo (top) was chosen from my archive. It was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 29th, 2008. The time was 09:16:33. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet. Thanks are due to toros.com and to the photographer.

Moltes gràcies.

The End Of An Era

Candy Floss

It is so easy to please children’s hearts and desires in Spain or anywhere, really; sweets will always do the trick. Give them some churros or crèpes, some gofres or algodon dulce (candy floss), manzanas de caramelo (toffee apples) or bunyols, and the youth will be pacified, for a moment at least.

Don’t get me wrong: I do not condone this attitude. In fact I was pleased when I overheard a parent telling his teenage daughter to forget it; no sweets, he said, think about your teeth. I just thought it was a nice photo, brought to you by the makers of the daily Mallorca photo snippets. The sweets stall was in attendance during the Sant Antoni foguerons (bonfires) in the town of Felanitx, a week later than everywhere else, two nights ago.

The photo was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: January 23rd, 2010. The time was 23:36:06.

Candy Floss