Most everybody is probably way too busy with preparations for a decent New Year Eve’s dinner, or party, or whatever to take notice of a quaint little festivity going on in Palma tonight and tomorrow morning: the Festa de l’Estendard. Perhaps everybody is still trying to buy 12 grapes for each and every member of the family for the moment when the clock changes from the old year to the new. You may have left it too late, I’d say.
The last day of the year is celebrated in Mallorca as being the day when the last Moorish Valí (governor) in Mallorca signed an agreement of capitulation with the conqueror, King Jaume I of Aragon and handed over the keys to the island capital. It all happened in the year 1229 as I am sure you will know full well. Celebrations started in Palma yesterday and will continue tonight with a concert by the Banda Municipal de Música de Palma at 19h00 in Plaça d’Espanya, followed by a church service at 19h30 and an homage to the Conquistador at 20h00 (see programme, bottom). The main day and the finest of the celebrations will happen tomorrow, though, and that would be an event that I do recommend to you if you have not witnessed it before. The Estendard Reial de la Conquesta de Mallorca (the ceremonial banner), hoisted on a flagpole of a height of 6 m, as well as the Cimera del Rei Marti (the monarch’s Chimera helmet, see photo below) will be exhibited in Plaça Cort at 10h15 tomorrow morning, before Palma’s Mayoress, the President of the Consell de Mallorca, the President of the Govern Balear and whoever else have you, rush off to a missa solemne in La Seu (Cathedral). What you don’t want to miss is the celebration as they come out of the Cathedral at 11h30 and make their way in a procession back to the Cort (town hall) in full regal authority and pomp with white horses galore, with brass band and all the opulence of yesteryear.
At 12h00 sharp, the Colcada will be held, a lyrical appraisal of the successful conquest, 781 years ago tomorrow, with the participation of perhaps two dozen children, all al·lots (pupils) of the l’Escola de Música i Danses de Mallorca. Quite a picturesque affair, I would say, believe me. It will all be over in 15 minutes, when Aina Calvo, the Batlessa (mayoress), will find words of praise for herself to pass review of the year just gone. She’ll make the most of it because it would seem that after the next elections we will in all likelihood have a new Batle (mayor) in Palma, sad as it may be. Elections will be held in Palma in May, 2011. That’s only just round the corner.
See if you can make it. It will be worth your while. And bring the young ones, they will like the horses.
The photos were taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The dates: December 31st, 2009, and December 29th, 2010. The time was 12:10:35 and 13:05:00, respectively.