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Celebrate Sant Antoni in Mallorca’s north

Deep in the middle of winter, after the celebrations of Christmas and the three kings are over, Majorcans from all over the Mediterranean island gather to celebrate the feast of Sant Antoni with bonfires, traditional music and typical food. While fiestas take place across the island, some of the most interesting and deep-rooted traditions are to be discovered and enjoyed in the towns and villages which lie in Mallorca’s attractive and picturesque rural north, which is home to some of the prettiest villas, rural fincas and country houses that the island has to offer.

Sa Pobla: a traditional rural town

St Anthony, the patron saint of farm animals, is one of the most important saints in Mallorca and this festival pays tribute to him - a vital tradition considering most of the islanders worked in agriculture prior to the arrival of tourism, and the surge of interest in owning a house, apartment, finca or flat on the island, in the 20th century. The first, and among the most spectacular, celebrations of Sant Antoni take place in Sa Pobla, famous for its strong agricultural community, which is surrounded by working farms, fincas and country houses with swimming pools. Sa Pobla, which is known as the vegetable basket of Mallorca, is also home to the first international school in the north of the island. My School, which opened its doors in September 2016 in Crestatx, a quiet residential hamlet of family houses, and follows a largely British curriculum.

Pollensa - Animal Blessing, Sant Antoni, Mallorca North

Sant Antoni “Revetla”

The evening of January 16 is called the “Revetla”, when large bonfires, are set alight throughout Sa Pobla’s medieval streets and the popular “torrades” (barbecues) are being enjoyed. The traditions can be traced back to the Middle Ages; they were first documented in 1365. Locals then take part in the ball dels dimonis when they dress up as demons (dimonis), wearing red and black costumes and sporting masks complete with horns, parade through the main square singing and playing ximbombades—Ximbomba is a typical Mallorcan percussion instrument. Traditionally, singers take the stage in the square to sing Mallorcan gloses (songs) before everyone starts to cook food including island specialities such as botifarrons (black pudding) and sobrasada (a delicious spicy sausage). Sa Pobla is also famous throughout the island for its espinagadas, which are popular savoury pastries stuffed with pork and cabbage or spinach and eel. As with many of the local festivals that take place throughout the year, the party continues well into the morning.

Blessing of the animals

On the morning of January 17, owners—with their children—walk with their pets and other animals to the main church to receive the Beneïdes (an animal blessing). No animal is turned away and, on any given year, an array of horses, dogs, canaries, turtles as well as shepherds with their flock of sheep arrive to be blessed.

Pollensa - Sant Antoni traditional celebration, Pollensa

Pi de Sant Antoni

Unique to the market town of Pollensa and Puerto Pollensa, which overlooks a majestic bay, the tradition involves scaling a tall and slippery pine tree. The process in Pollensa begins with a procession and blessing of animals at the main church on the morning of January 17. This is followed by a walk up to the Ternelles valley to collect a previously selected tree and bring it back on a two-wheel cart. Before the trip down, and with around 3,000 locals participating, the town hall provide bread, wine and sardines as well as various grill points for barbecuing anything you wish to take with you. At 2 p.m. the descent to the Plaça Vella, Pollensa’s attractive medieval town square begins. This requires a lot of manoeuvring through the narrow streets of the town to the old square behind the church. Throughout the fiesta, the xeremiers, locals playing a type of bagpipe which is native to Mallorca and pauses for folk dances such as Ball de Bot accompany the party as do many a bottle of local spirits. To make matters more challenging, the tree is scrubbed with soap and olive oil before being pulled up to full height by men using ropes and pulleys from the top of the church. Then, with up to ten people standing on the supporting ropes or gripping the tree at any one time–all from Pollensa and all members of elected teams–the aim is for one brave soul to scrabble his way up to the top. The prize for the first person to reach the top is found in a traditional basket (senalla) attached to the few remaining branches at the summit and which, from 1897 until last year, contained a live cockerel. However, to avoid any suffering to an animal, this year it will be filled with confetti. The basket is then emptied on the crowds below and that man joins the list of the special few who reached the top first. The same tradition exists in Puerto Pollensa where a tree is delivered by boat from the famous peninsular of Formentor–which is home to a spectacular range of traditional and contemporary villas with sea views for sale. Those who live in the frontline apartments which overlook the stunning bay of Pollensa offer some of the best views of the action. Once the festival is over, the tree stays put for any one that wants to try and climb it, until Ash Wednesday when it is taken down and is used to make wooden swords for La Patrona on August 2, the annual festival which re-enacts a battle between the Moors and the Christians held every August.

Mallorca celebrates many different traditional festivities, all a must see to get the real island feeling! To be up to date with all upcoming events and news from our real estate market, follow us on facebook.

About the author: Arabella Youens is a freelance editor and journalist based in London. Having studied at the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid and worked both for a summer in Palma and a year in Barcelona, she speaks good Spanish and covered the top-end property marketing the Balearics for over ten years while she was Property Editor of Country Life magazine. Today, she continues to write about property and interiors across a variety of titles including The Telegraph, Country Life, London’s Evening Standard, City AM, Homes & Gardens and Country & Town House.

Pollensa townhouse with masses of outside space

Mallorca, Mallorca North, Spain
Buying price 790,000 EUR
Plot Surface 181 m²

Engel & Völkers

Via Pollentia, 20
07460 Pollensa
+34-971-53 20 50

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