Saturday 21 May 2011
Sant Joan - 23rd June Throughout Mallorca
The fiesta of St John the Baptist (Sant Joan) allows the island to celebrate the summer solstice, with music, food and fireworks.
It’s usual for friends and family to converge on the island’s beaches and light bonfires and have BBQ’s and party late into the night on the eve of the Saint’s day.
These huge bonfires and fireworks displays are held each year in the Parc de la Mar and mark the beginning of the islands summer fiestas.
Sant Joan is also celebrated in Menorca where the festivities are huge and thousands of people desend on the island to celebrate.
The fiesta of Sant Joan, dates back to the beginning of the 14th century and is religious in origin. The vestry-board of the saint heads in pilgrimage on horseback, to a small rural chapel in order to honour their patron. The "caixers" are riders who represent the social strata: the church, nobility, craftsmen (masters and apprentices) and country people (farmers, one from the north and one from the south of the city limits). The "cavallers" (riders) who make up the majority of the "qualcada" (cavalcade), are all country people of different ages, from 7 or 8 to more than 70!
The fiesta starts on the Sunday prior to the 24th June, known as the "Día des Be". Countryman, dressed in lambskin, similar to Saint John the Baptist, walks barefoot through the old streets of Ciutadella (Menorca) accompanied by the "caixers" (riders), who are also on foot, inviting everyone to the fiesta that is approaching.
On the 23rd at precisely 14.00pm, the fiesta starts at the palace of the "Caixer Senyor" (the nobleman) who presides over the fiesta for a two-year period. The fiesta starts with the "primer toc" , which is the first playing of a flute known as the "flabiol". This is a simple flute made out of cane and this, together with a small drum, permanently marks time for the celebration.
The main events and the times of the fiesta are as follows:
23rd June: 2 p.m.: palace of the "Caixer Senyor"; 6 p.m. Plaça des Born, where horses and riders demonstrate their skills and elegance to the rhythm of the "jaleo", the typical music of the fiesta; 7.30 p.m.: rural chapel of Sant Joan de Missa, which is 3 kms. from Ciutadella; 9 p.m.: calle de Ses Voltes, plaza de la Catedral; 11.30 p.m.: the narrow streets between Ses Voltes and the museum of the Bastió de Sa Font and Santa Clara.
24th June: approx. 10.00 a.m.: trials for the Medieval games in Pla de Sant Joan in the port of Ciutadella. The evening events are repeated in the medieval streets. At 6 p.m. the "convidada" takes place. This is when the noble rider invites the town hall to view the games that take place in Es Pla an hour later: These games are the most spectacular and dangerous of the fiesta and the most experienced riders take part in these games. They consist of three trials of equestrian skills: "Ensortilla", which is a test of equilibrium and aim; " rompre ses carotes", which is a jousting test between two riders and finally a more dangerous test in which two horses set off on a gallop together, with their riders arm in arm.
The typical drink of the fiesta and of all fiestas of the island is "gin", a heritage of the English, which is drunk with lemonade or fresh lemon juice. This drink is known as "pomada" in most of the island.