In January Mallorca celebrates!

In January on Mallorca, despite cool winter temperatures, is usually not only sunny but also very special traditional festivities take place.

In Palma at San Sebastian the devils are let loose

In Palma at San Sebastian the devils are let loose

With music, dancing and excessive, public BBQ parties the island honours its saints: Sant Sebastià and Sant Antoni. It all begins, however, with the Holy Three Kings

Los Reyes Magos

At the start of the year the Mallorcans, usually relatively quiet people, show their love of celebrations. The New Year gets off to a good start in Mallorca, especially for the children. On the 6th January the Three Kings appear and bring the children their Christmas gifts.

The Three Wise Men from the East arrive in the harbour by boat on the day before, the 5th January, splendidly dressed and accompanied by their escort. They ride through the streets on beautiful horses throwing sweets to the children.

This spectacle is particularly impressive in Palma and the procession of the ‘Reyes Magos’ (called ‘Calvacada dels Reys Mags’ in Mallorcan) resembles a carnival procession. But also in the coastal areas, for example Cala Ratjada, this special evening is well worth seeing.

On the morning of the 6th January Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar go from door to door in the villages and hand out the gifts (which were previously collected in the town hall). Alternatively the children place a glass of liqueur or cognac for the kings and water for the horses in front of their door before going to bed and, the next morning, find their presents there when they awake.

Wonderful spectacle in Palma

Those who want to experience this magical procession in Palma should arrive punctually in order to get a place in the first row, and optimally park their car early in one of Palma’s numerous underground car parks. The boat carrying the kings arrives at around 6 pm at the Old Jetty and the procession then proceeds through the town centre – via the streets Antonio Maura, Borne, the Placa Joan Carlos I, Carrer Unio, La Rambla, the Passeig Mallorca, the Avenida Jaume III to the Placa Cort.

The Saints and the devils

In January two further important saints are celebrated – in the bewitched night before the Saint’s Day of Sant Antoni the ‘fat is (literally) in the fire’. On the 16th January in many areas bonfires are lit, and barbecue meat with ‘sobrassada’ and ‘botifarra’ is distributed by the town halls together with warming red wine.

A public festival which is particularly celebrated in villages like Muro, Sa Pobla or Algaida, at midnight the devils, called ‘Dimonis’, dance accompanied by spectacular firework displays. This ‘devil’s dance’ is to drive away evil spirits and in many villages this ancient tradition is still fervently cultivated.

Special pride is taken in the differing devil’s costumes and masks. Always surprising is how much noise the normally quiet island people produce, and those who are brave enough to participate in this ‘devilish’ firework spectacle should take care to wear fireproof clothing!

The next day in front of many of the village churches pets and household animals – dogs, cats, but also sheep or guinea pigs etc. – are blessed as Sant Antoni is also the patron saint of animals.

The animal blessing at Sant Antoni is a spectacle for young and old

The animal blessing at Sant Antoni is a spectacle for young and old

Palma becomes an open-air stage

The lively month of January carries on – on the 20th. January Sant Sebastian is celebrated – the patron saint of Palma is said to have freed the town of the plague in the 16th. Century.

Simultaneously there are concerts in many different music styles – from rock over Mallorcan folk music to Flamenco – which assure winter-evening enjoyment until the early hours of the morning on the Placa Cort and other squares in the city-centre including the Sant Francesc and Placa Major.

Not only the population of Palma is on its feet – partygoers come from every corner of the island. This fiesta lasts several days with its so-called ‘torrats’, street-barbecues during the evening, the aforementioned devil’s dance, the biggest firework display of the year (‘aiguafoc’) on the Paseo Maritimo, and the conferring of the most important award of the city of Palma for literature, architecture and art. Palma town hall issues a brochure every year showing a programme of the week’s activities.

Here it is also recommended that cars are conveniently parked in an underground parking area before entering the fray. Unlike the Three Wise Men this fiesta starts later and the concerts do not start until around 8 pm, although it is generally not until after 10 pm that Palma becomes one whole party zone.

Celebrations during Sant Sebastian

Celebrations during Sant Sebastian

Carnival and almond blossom

Those who believe that Mallorca is boring in the winter is very wrong. At the beginning of February the carnival season starts and everyone is invited to a big carnival procession called Sa Rua. There is also a smaller procession for children called Sa Rueta. At this time everyone wants to win the competition for the best costume and float and has spent months sewing and building.

And those for whom the noise and partying is too much should know that the surrounding nature has also dressed itself up and presents an unforgettable spectacle – at this time of the year approx. 7 million almond trees bloom and the whole island is adorned in pink and white.

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