Sant Antoni and Sant Sebastià: Traditions in Pollença

Pollença is a municipality in the north of Mallorca located between the sea-line and the mountain range Serra de Tramuntana. It is this setting that gives the town its character: its well-preserved nature, its old town-centre, its mannerisms, accent and of course, its traditional festivities.

It is during those celebrations most deeply-rooted in Pollença, that one truly notices the special and unique nature of its people. In Summer, the town’s patron saint brings is celebrated through a display of devotion while in mid Balearic winter it is the festivities of Sant Antoni and Sant Sebastià, on the 17th and 20th of January, respectively, are prime examples of tradition.

 

Sant Antoni & the “Pi de Ternelles” pine-tree

The 17th of January is the day Saint Anthony the Abbot, patron saint of animals, a festivity celebrated in many towns of Mallorca. The celebration begins on the night before with the foguerons: bonfires on which to grill llangonisses and botifarrons, and around which the villagers get together to sing glosses, traditional compositions sung to the rhythm of the ximbomba.

On the night of January 16th, a stroll through Pollença has a special ambiance and not just due to the smoke of the bonfires but also the children and grown-ups around the fire singing together, sharing a bottle of mesclat and inviting passers-by to join and watch.

Sant Antoni bonfire, used on the 16th of January for cooking dinner and keeping warm. Imagen de EnunClickClack
Sant Antoni bonfire, used on the 16th of January for cooking dinner and keeping warm. Imagen de EnunClickClack.

 

But the big day is January 17th. At 10 in the morning the day begins with the most religious and serene ceremony: les Beneïdes. Pets and cattle are taken to the church by the Plaza Mayor town square, the parish priest stands in the doorway and blesses all of the Pollençins walking past with their animals alongside. According to tradition, these will then be watched over by the patron saint of the animals.

Then begin the celebrations, with hundreds of Pollençins and interested outsiders making their way up to Ternelles, a land and manor property on the outskirts of the town, on their way to the heart of the festivity: a pine-tree around 20 metres tall. After the meal and in a shroud of fire crackers and xeremies bagpipe-music, begins the pine-tree’s slow journey back towards the town’s old Plaza Vella square, where it will be lathered up and climbed by a youth from the village.

While it is true that the pine-tree must be climbed by a local and foreigners are not advised to try this feat, throughout the festivity the villagers gladly welcome tourists to curiously come nearer and watch the fiesta del pino or festa del pi and invite them to some mesclat, a strong typical liqueur special for celebrations.

Sant Sebastià: els cavallets and l’estendard

If Sant Antoni is a festivity, Saint Sebastian is tradition. The procession that takes place on the 20th of January is a sober ceremony in which tribute is paid to the 3rd Century praetorian Roman saint, Saint Sebastian, and to the medieval horses who fought against the Turks.

The main characters are three youths from the town who have been previously chosen and who conscientiously prepare for the representation of one of the town’s oldest traditions. The two “cavallets” dance to the sound of the piccolo flute while the “estendard” waves a large flag in a characteristic rhythm and manner.

For the duration of a week, Sant Antoni and Sant Sebastià interrupt Pollença’s day-to-day life, filling the town with celebration and tradition.

Highlight Snapshot via CulturaPollensa.com

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Not yet persuaded by the previous 5 reasons to buy a house in Mallorca? Well here you have another 5 to help tip the balance in favour of the greatest of the Balearics.

Traditional Cuisine

One need really say no more than pure 100% Mediterranean diet. Flavour-filled and healthy food you will love, and besides the uniquely Mallorquin dishes, such as arròs bruttrampó and frit, you’ll also be able to enjoy Spanish gastronomy: paella, tapas, jamón…

Furthermore, there are plenty of regional products such as olive oil, wine, cheese…

Ensaimada is a typical Mallorcan dessert.
Ensaimada is a typical Mallorcan dessert.

Sports

No matter how healthy the food is, if you enjoy laying into it then it will be advisable to do some exercise for the greatest enjoyment of the island’s beaches. Well no worries in this regard, as Mallorca is truly a sports paradise. In the summer you can enjoy water-sports such as sailing and canoeing, as well as diving and fishing. Throughout the rest of the year you can also do some cycling and hill-walking.

If you also enjoy some more intense sensations, you should know that Mallorca is one of the best places in the world to do psycho block (rock-climbing over the sea), in Autumn you can enjoy the local sport of torrenting (abseiling in the mountain stream-gorges and river beds) and in the Summer you can take advantage of the wind and do some windsurfing and kite-surfing.

Tradition and craftsmanship

The rich history of Mallorca means its traditional has countless influences: the Moros y Cristianos festivities in Sóller and Pollença, catholic celebrations such as Sant Antoni in Sa Pobla and Manacor, fiestas relating to rural life such as Es Vermar in Binissalem…

But the traditions of Mallorca are not just to be seen in its events and festivities. Its traditional dance and music (such as the ball de pagès and its artisanal crafts, siurells and wicker goods) attest to the tradition that Mallorquins have kept alive down through the centuries.

Fiestas and much more

Along with the beaches and sunshine, partying is definitely among the most appealing aspects of a holiday. Every year, areas such as Magaluf and S’Arenal welcome hundreds of thousands of young and not-so-young people looking forward to having a great time. The fact that they keep coming back, really says something.

Nevertheless, Mallorca is not just for party monsters: there are many areas and regions where one breathes true peace and quiet. There are spas and seaside resorts to allow you to relax and many little villages that will allow you to disconnect from the stress while you enjoy a stroll through their stone-paved streets.

There enough Mallorca to suit everyone

This is the reason you should come to live here: variety. The island is small and everything is near-by, yet the endless range of leisure, culture, tradition, gastronomy, etc will mean you’re sure to find yourself falling in love with it… that part of the island that was made just for you.