Friday, 11 December 2009 12:00 AM
One of Mallorca’s most celebrated festivals is that of Sant Antoni Abat.
Taking place each January, the festival brings the island alive with a vibrant atmosphere as villagers come together to bless the patron saint of animals and agriculture.
It is an ideal time to book a quality villa in Mallorca as it is quieter than the busy summer holiday months, yet visitors will find a sense of the local culture and community during the festival.
Bonfires, eels and animals
Traditionally, the eve of Sant Antoni Abat is when the celebrations take place – bonfires are lit and villagers dance around them taking part in the ancient ritual of purification and the triumph of good over evil.
It is a two-day festival that is joyfully celebrated and streets all over the island will be filled with people. Some cities even have parades and floats during the day.
People will be dressed in traditional Mallorcan costume while others tell folk tales and sing folk music around the fires.
All over Mallorca people will be involved in the festivities and when the fires start to die down they will toast bread and cook sausages on the embers.
Visitors on a Mallorcan holiday should try out the traditional dish Espinagada, which is based on eels.
Sant Antoni, who lived in the third or fourth century AD, is the patron saint of domesticated animals, who helped to protect the creatures that needed to work in the fields.
He is seen as the guardian of crops and livestock and is often thought of as the animal’s saint.
The next day, Saint’s Day, will involve a solemn mass, followed by a blessing where locals are invited to take their pets and livestock to church.
Other Mallorcan festivals
Sant Antoni Abat is one of the many festivals that takes place throughout the year in Mallorca.
Other events include the horse festival – Saint Joan – each June, where riders travel though the towns in costume. This month also sees the festivals Sant Joan Pelos and Romeria de Sant Marcal.
Sant Sebastia’s Eve is one of the year’s highlights and it has live music in many of Palma’s squares. There is also the main July fiesta, Our Lady of the Sea, which honours the Virgen del Carmen, patroness of fishermen, with a flotilla of fishing boats.