The Encounter

I promise not to make another mention of Easter in Mallorca after today, at least not for another eleven months. But this year’s final Easter blog entry is about L’encontrada, the encounter between Jesus and Maria, which is just too endearing an event not to let you know about.

Every year, early on Easter Sunday, a significant encounter is reenacted all over Mallorca: L’encontrada, where Jesus meets Maria after his resurrection.

In a procession, this time without penitence and without the obligatory Easter hoods and capes and candles, the statue of Jesus is brought from one church to another where a statue of Maria awaits him. This morning, like every year, the encounter happened again in Felanitx, Santanyí, Manacor, Sineu, Palma and probably elsewhere on the island as well, and was in each case followed by a solemn church service. You may not have witnessed the encounter this time or ever but, if you have a chance to next year, you should. I find that this is one of the many opportunities when Mallorca is at its best, always on a festive and joyous level when Mallorcans are amongst themselves and away from the tourist trade and the commercial riffraff.

The photos (top two) were taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: April 8th, 2012. The time was 09:43:05 and 09:45:47, respectively. The photos (bottom two) were borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of diariodemallorca.es.

Muchas gracias.

The Encounter

The Davallament in Felanitx

As a blogger, you sometimes have to take risks. Such as today when I run the risk of boring you. I know, I have been going on a bit over the last week or so about Easter celebrations in Mallorca and processions and other such traditions. And I know that I have reported in past years about the spectacular performance of the Davallament (Passion Play) in Felanitx, my hometown for the last 25 years.

But, here I am again. This year’s Davallament performance took place last night, as always on Divendres Sant (Good Friday). Luckily the rain was holding off. The show was organized by the Creuada de l’Amor Diví amateur group, as always for the last 37 years, and directed by José Luís Fernández. The Davallament is a synopsis of the suffering, the death and the crucifixion of Jesus. The play is made up of five acts (Last Supper, Ecce Homo, Encounter with Maria, The First Fall, and El Davallament [Taking off the Cross]). As every year, I am amazed how relatively little this show is attended. Yes, there were a few thousand locals around and one or the other tourist, but truly speaking, the performance should warrant recognition on a scale way beyond the borders of Mallorca, and certainly, beyond Felanitx.

After the performance, a procession involving all of Felanitx’s fraternities took a statue representing Jesus Christ to the Església de Sant Agustí, where it was entombed in a ceremony called Enterrament (see photo bottom), awaiting resurrection. The Christ figure will be brought back from Sant Agustí to Sant Miquel tomorrow morning, Sunday, to be reunited with a Maria statue in a rather moving procession called L’Encontrada (The Encounter).

The photo (top) was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: April 6th, 2012. The time was 21:35:24. The photo (centre) was taken at the same place, the same night, by my friend Guenter Woehrle. The photo (bottom) was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Spain. The date: April 23rd, 2011. The time was 00:18:15. Credit goes to Manolo Serra Serra.

Tausend Dank, and

muchas gracias.

The Davallament in Felanitx

The Crucifixion

Good Friday, today, may well be the most important day in the calendar of the Mallorcan community. Today is the end of Cuaresma (Lent, the 40 days long period of fasting). There will be further Easter processions of the brotherhoods, wearing hooded capes in red or black or white or green, the last ones of the year. A Vía Crucis performance will be staged on the steps below the Cathedral in Palma (12h00).

In the evening, after the church service, a Passion Play will be performed in a number of Mallorcan pueblos, such as S’Alquería Blanca (Santanyí), Felanitx, Artà, Pollença, Sant Joan, Alaró and Son Servera, culminating in the Davallament (Taking off the Cross).

Later at night, some parishes will celebrate an Enterrament (Burial), a most festive ceremony in Felanitx (see photo below), Artà, Campos and Porreres.

The photo (top) was taken in Manacor, Mallorca, Spain. The date: April 5th, 2012. The time was 22:31:00. The photo (bottom) was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Spain. The date: April 23rd, 2011. The time was 00:28:26. Credit goes to Manolo Serra Serra.

Muchas gracias.

The Crucifixion

The Easter Week

Semana Santa (the Easter week) is truly underway in Spain, and here in Mallorca. Lots of magical scenes can be seen all over the island, and plenty of powerful images can be taken.

Easter processions in Spain are celebrations of penitence and sincere repentance. Last night, there were six  different Easter processions in Palma alone, starting from various churches such as Sant Francesc (photo above), Santa Clara, Sant Joan de Malta or Sant Jeronimo.

There will be more processions tomorrow, April 3rd, in Palma and in the pueblos, such as the Procesión del Silencio in Felanitx, a solemn affair full of spirit and fervor. There will be other processions all week long in Palma as well as in a village near you.

The photos (top and centre) were taken in Palma, Mallorca, Spain. The date: April 2nd, 2012. The time was 20:44:12, 22:22:02 and 22:25:40, respectively. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of diariodemallorca.es and the photographer, Tesa Juan.

Muchas gracias.

The Easter Week

Mallorcan Easter Traditions

Today, Mallorca celebrates Diumenge des Ram (Palm Sunday), the first day of the dramatic and rather compelling Easter processions, commemorating the entering of Jesus in Jerusalem. Traditionally, on this day, blessed olive branches or dried palm leaves are handed out to the church goers attending the morning mass. This evening, the first of the Easter processions will be held in Palma with the attendance of all the Confrarias (confraternities, or brotherhoods). Last Friday, all of Palma’s Confrarias held their first procession of this year’s Easter proceedings (see photo below), simply manifesting their attendance this year.

Easter processions in Mallorca usually involve hooded cloaks whilst some involve chains, mock flagellation and bare feet. This week, there are also Vía Crucis or Vía Dolorosa (The Bearing of the Cross) processions and theatrical Passion Play performances, Davallaments, Enterraments and vigils.

One of the more vivid Easter processions is the Processó del Silenci (Procesión del Silencio, Silent Procession), held in complete silence and solemnity, with the quietness only broken by a deep and throbbing drumbeat.

Dijous Sant (Jueves Santo, Maundy Thursday) marks the last day of Quaresma (Lent). On this day, the annual Processó de la Sang, the largest of the Easter processions, is held with hundreds of hooded penitents participating, and thousands of believers in utter repentance in Palma. Visually, it is all quite stunning. In the past, a stringent regimen of fasting meant that the eating of sweets or meat was not allowed during Lent. After Viernes Santo (Good Friday), Robiols (sweet pies), Panades (savoury pastries), Crespells (sweet biscuits) and Coques de Patata (see photo above) are prepared for the festive weekend.

The Golgatha celebration (Passion of Christ) in Mallorca is a pageant centred around the Davallament, the story of the Last Supper, the betrayal of Jesus by Judas, Jesus’s capture, his crucifixion, the taking off of the cross, the Pietà and, finally, the Enterrament (burial). Davallament performances are usually staged in Felanitx, Artà, Sant Joan and Pollença.

On Easter Sunday, most Mallorcan pueblos and parishes celebrate the resurrection of Christ and the Encontrada between the Virgin Mary and her son, Jesus. This is a joyful procession, now without hoods or cloaks, where brass music is played by the Banda de Música and when pigeons are released en masse to celebrate the happy occasion. A Missa Solemne (solemn mass service) is usually celebrated after the Encontrada, concluding the religious part of Easter and Setmana Santa for another year.

Easter Monday is not traditionally a church holiday in Spain, but has acquired holiday status in recent years to allow for the celebration of Pancaritats. In Mallorca, this is a tradition involving citizens convening at monasteries and hermitages to share food with one another and with other, less privileged members of the local community. In Felanitx, a Pujada Solidaria journey on foot is organised up to Sant Salvador, the nearest Puig to Felanitx and the seat of the Santuari de Sant Salvador, the monastery dating from the 15th century.

On the Sunday after Easter, Diumenge de l’Àngel will be celebrated in many Mallorcan pueblos and at Palma’s Castell del Bellver with church services of the more formal kind and with further festive gatherings. More food to be shared between all, no doubt.

A schedule of most of the dates and venues of religious Easter ceremonies in Mallorca can be found on this website.

Happy Easter.

Molts d’anys.

Today’s blog entry is a variation of an article I contributed to a relatively new Mallorca website, discovermallorca.com. Thank you for permitting me the use of some of that information, here.

The photo (top) was taken near Campos, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: February 5th, 2012. The time was 12:10:56. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of diariodemallorca.es and the photographer, Miquel Massuti.

Muchas gracias.

Mallorcan Easter Traditions

Village Life

I am in the middle of reading a fascinating book, Tuning up at Dawn by Tomás Graves, the youngest son of Robert Graves. I am captivated by the book as it portrays village life in Mallorca during the Fifties and Sixties as well as the Seventies and Eighties.

Clearly, the social web of Mallorca’s pueblos has changed considerably since 1953 for a variety of reasons: the arrival of the Sixth Fleet, the construction of the installations on top of Puig Major, the death of Franco, the emergence of a democratic society, the influx of tourism, the blessings or not of sudden prosperity, the retreat of the American fleet, the widespread impact of television, the proliferation of drugs, the trappings of Modern Life, rapidly growing traffic by land and by air, an avalanche of property sales to estranjeros like you and me, the advent of golf tourism, the flourishing life of the Club Naùtica world, the hustle and bustle of showcase construction landmarks, building boom activities everywhere, and so on and so forth. I could probably name another few dozen of recent influences which all have catapulted Mallorca from a sleepy, almost Third World style community right into the heart of the 21st century and now, into the mayhem of unemployment and La Crisis.

Notwithstanding, a large part of traditional village life can still be found, almost on a daily basis. Take a funeral, for instance, or go to the village market, but better make it to the mercat during the off-season. You will see Mallorcan housewives buying three live pollastres (chicken) ready to be prepared for Sunday lunch, or her husband buying a Décimo ticket from the partly visually impaired lottery man, almost the way it has always been.

Fiestas and perhaps religious festivities are other such occasions when the traditional social gathering still thrives. We all will have a good opportunity to see if that is true with Easter coming up in two weeks time. Then caputxers and cofrarías (hooded penitence sinners) will participate in lively and rather emotional Easter processions. During these and other similar activities, happening in every single pueblo on the island, we will feel like in a time-machine that takes us back to the old days of yesteryear. I am glad that this is so and that Mallorcan villagers have not yet totally lost their roots, cultural tradition and soul. Phew.

The photo was chosen from my archive. It was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 23rd, 2009. The time was 18:31:45.

Village Life

The Jaia Corema

The Jaia Quaresma is the traditional symbol of Lent in Mallorca in the time leading up to Easter. The Jaia Quaresma is also known as Vella Cuaresma or Jaia Corema, depending on whether you speak Castellano, Mallorcan or Catalan.

Lent is the time of fasting, when one should refrain from eating meat and instead, one should eat fish. People are used to that change in eating regime, but the Jaia woman is meant to instill the seven week-long habit into the younger ones. To ensure a successful conversion into fish eaters – remember, we are talking about a time when fish fingers were not yet invented and certainly not known here in Mallorca, some sixty years ago or more – the Jaia figure was used as a threat, as in, “if you eat meat and not your fish the Jaia Corema will come and saw your leg of“. Hmm. Strong stuff. The Jaia figure has seven legs for the seven weeks of Lent. Each week, one leg is cut off for the week gone past, illustrating the point that there surely was one meat-eating offender amongst the children at school. In my photo, there are four legs left to go.

Times have moved on, one would have hoped. But in the old days, a traditional Mallorcan period of Lent would mainly consist of Sopes amb Oli, a soup with bread, vegetables, water and olive oil. Only on Sundays fish was allowed to be eaten. It is for this reason that the old Jaia woman would always hold a fish in her hand, mostly a piece of cod.

The photo was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: March 12th, 2011. The time was 12:09:14. The illustration was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of ikoukladethelei.blogspot.com.

Moltes gràcies.

The Jaia Corema