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

Dances With Bears

Els Óssos i en Joanet de l’Onso is the name of a group of six infant dancers plus an adult leader who are part of a newly formed folkloric act in Campos, not totally dissimilar to the Cavallets in Felanitx albeit with much less tradition, or rather, none whatsoever, yet. Last Sunday and the Friday before they made their first public appearance ever. The occasion was the Festa de Sant Blai. Sant Blai (Saint Blaise) is the patron of the Oratori de Sant Blai, a rather beautiful chapel from the 15th century not far from Campos. The saint is said to help in cases of throat illnesses. In Mallorca, tradition has it that on this saint’s day (February 3rd), olive oil is first blessed and then offered to the congregation to be applied to their throats as a symbol of blessing and as a protective prevention. This custom is not restricted to Campos; it may have been practiced in a church in your very own pueblo; you can go there next year and find out.

Should you want to attend such ceremony in Campos or indeed, should you want to see the dances with bears, you will have to make your way to the Oratori de Sant Blai on foot, on bike, by horse or by donkey. That is what the tradition wants, in Campos, anyway. Cars and motorbikes are banned.

In case you wondered why there is a bear in the heraldic ways of Campos, I did wonder as well. I asked a friendly police man and was told that it derived from the unstructuring of the name Campos into its parts Camp and Os, meaning something like the bear field. Some linguists seem to disagree with that liberal interpretation, but there you are. The coat of arms of Campos does indeed show a bear, as does the one of Madrid.

The photo was taken near Campos, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: February 5th, 2012. The time was 12:10:56.

Dances With Bears

The Annual Olive Harvest

Whilst Mallorca’s grape harvest makes big headlines every year here and abroad, the island’s annual olive harvest gets underway rather unnoticed and overlooked. I have you know that in the foothills of the Tramuntana mountains this year’s olive harvest began last week. Last year, in 2010, a bumper harvest was recorded amongst Mallorca’s olive groves, resulting in the largest production of olive oil for years, here. This year, the weather was adverse for such record yields due to the unusually long spell of dry conditions and a severe lack of rain. In 2011, it looks like a drastic shortfall in olive reaping will have to be recorded here in Mallorca, albeit with a superior quality when compared with the normal Empeltre (shown here), Arbequina, Picual or Hojiblanca (Mallorca’s main olive varieties) crop. Rumours have it that the quantity of last year’s olive oil pressing resulted in a substantial surplus. It is widely expected that as a result retail price levels for Mallorcan olive oil will come down somewhat. Prices for crude olives are down considerably on last year’s wholesale levels.

Es Fangar, a German-owned, self-proclaimed organic farm in the East of the island seems to have opted for a different strategy. Their self-pressed olive oil combines Picual, Arbequina, Serrana and Villalonga varieties and is retailed almost exclusively in Switzerland, where 500 ml sell for the equivalent of 25 €. It is said to be good, though. Not that I have been to Switzerland recently, and I have not found it in any Mallorcan shops so far.

The pueblo of Caimari will hold its annual Fira de s’Oliva from November 19th to 20th. A Fira de s’Oli i Gerret (a small fish) will be held in Port de Sóller, November 26th and 27th.

The photo was chosen from my archive. It was taken near Caimari, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: November 12th, 2008. The time was 12:29:47.

The Annual Olive Harvest

The Pastor Mallorquín

If you would ask me what I liked best about Mallorca, I would probably give you a dozen aspects, or two. There are the local Mallorcan people, there is the landscape, there is the sea. I like the light here, the blue sky, the weather and the sun. I wouldn’t want to miss the history of this island, the Talayots, the monasteries, the sundials. I could do without yachts and golf courses, but, I could not do without the smell of the algarroba, the fig tree, the Higo Chumbos, the poppy fields. I would not want to miss the tempting fish markets, the gentle olive oil, pa amb oli, sopas or vi negre. I would very much miss the sheep bells, the high-pitched cry of the peacocks, the elegance of the Mallorcan thoroughbred and the devotion of the Pastor Mallorquín, in the local lingo (Catalan) known as Ca de Bestiar. And I certainly would not want to be denied the local lingo itself, Mallorquín, a language which I love even though I do not speak it very well. I’m working on it, though.

The Ca de Bestiar will have its annual dog show competition, the XVIII Exposició Monogràfica de Ca de Bestiar, in Felanitx tomorrow, Sunday, September 25th, 2011. The contest will start at 10h00. I’ll be there.

The dog show is part of the Fira de Sant Miquel which this year also includes a Fira de Vi i Dolços, starting this afternoon at 16h30, weather permitting.

The photo was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of es.cadebestiar.de.

Danke, Ana.

The Pastor Mallorquín

Mediterranean Terracotta Jars

Ceramics have always played a great part in Mallorca’s day-to-day life. Earthenware pots, jars, urns, vessels, tubes, roof tiles, floor tiles, bowls, crockery, plates, lamps and cooking vessels have been fired in Mallorca for hundreds of years, in large wood-fired kilns. Every pueblo to speak of used to have its own Teulera (ceramic kiln) or Ceramica (ceramic workshop), although, in this day and age, ceramic production is somewhat on a decline here on the island.

The Terracotta jars in today’s photo are not typical for Mallorca. They were probably imported from the mainland, most likely from the Murcia area or from Andalucía. Traditionally, those large bellied jars or urns used to be kept for the storage of oil, wine or water. The Romans brought these kind of pots with them, as did the Phoenicians and the Moors. Now and then, you will find lorries on the roadsides of Mallorcan villages having come from the mainland with an assortment of ceramic and other treasures. You may be totally ripped off as likely as you might be able to strike a bargain. It all depends on your luck, your blue eyes or your language abilities. Don’t be shy to negotiate a deal.

The photo was taken in Santanyí, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 27th, 2011. The time was 13:30:04.

Mediterranean Terracotta Jars

The Mallorcan Possessió

A manor house with agricultural land in Mallorca is called a possessió. There are a few dozen of those around here on the island, all competing in their splendour and rank with the next one. You may know some of the more emblematic possessions around, such as Raixa, Alfàbia, La Granja, Els Calderers, Son Real or Son Marroig, from being able to visit them but, some of the more prestigious properties are not normally open to the public and are well hidden away from us mere mortals.

Son Togores in the municipal district of Bunyola is one of those classy estates which are usually closed to the curious eye. The property dates back some 700 years. In the 15th century, the estate fell under the domain of the Caballería de Canet and had its own chapel, a commercial olive oil press and a fair amount of land. About 150 years ago, the main house of Son Togores was remodelled in the Italian style by a Mallorcan business man who had made his fortune in doing trade with Egypt. A rare exception to visit was made the other day. I am glad I was allowed in to have a peep behind the curtains as it were. I understand that for a fistful of duros the house can now be rented for functions and receptions. Get your cheque book ready.

The photos were taken near Bunyola, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 7th, 2011. The time was 19:55:26 and 20:18:04, respectively.

The Mallorcan Possessió

The Firas de Maig

Just in case you don’t know what to do in Mallorca today or tomorrow, here are some of the options.

May is the month when the big annual Firas are held, the spring markets, the Firas de Maig. One is being held in Campos, this weekend, and another one in Felanitx, tomorrow. In Son Carrió, the Festes Patronals 2011 will be held, today and tomorrow. Even though I live in Felanitx, I would actually recommend the Fira in Campos, unless you have been to a Fira de Maig in Campos before. I will probably go to Son Carrió, as it has been a while since I last went. There will also be Firas de Maig in Campanet, Lloret de Vistalegre and Santa Eugènia, whilst in Sóller, Es Firó de Maig will be celebrated om Monday, May 9th, with festivities already beginning today. Es Firó reenacts the historic battle between Moros i Cristianos. In Calvià, the Día d’Europa will be held. Check locally for details.

Also, as I told you the other day, the Fira del Vi (wine market) will be held in Pollença, today and tomorrow.

The XXVIII Salón Náutico Internacional is still on in Palma, today and tomorrow (Muelle Viejo). Admission is yours for 6 €, or 5 € if you are very young. And there is a car race going on in Valldemossa, the II Pujada a Valldemossa, also today and tomorrow. There, the Campeonato de Baleares de Montaña will be crowned.

Or you could simply go for a walk in this wonderful weather and enjoy the beauty of Mallorcan landscape now, when it’s at its best. Have fun, whatever you are planning to do.

The photo was chosen from my archive. It was taken in Mancor de la Vall, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: November 28th, 2010. The time was 15:33:21.

The Firas de Maig