Tired of the same Christmas routine every year? At JS Hotels we encourage you to try something different this year. The largest of the Balearic Islands is also an excellent destination in December, not just for its cities and natural environment, but also to experience some Mallorcan Christmas traditions, some of them unique to the island. Keep reading. When you finish, you’ll definitely want to spend Christmas on the shores of the Mediterranean.
CHRISTMAS ON THE STREETS
In December, Christmas traditions in Mallorca can be seen everywhere. For example, you can enjoy all the nativity scenes set up in many churches and public and private venues. This is a typically Spanish tradition that is also very popular on the island.
The Sant Jaume Church in Alcudia and the Plaza de Las Verduras in Manacor are two locations to see nativity scenes near the JS hotels in Alcudia Bay and Portocolom. However, it’s near JS Palma Stay and JS Paradise Beach Music in Palma de Mallorca where nativity scenes are found around every corner, such as at the Iglesia de la Sangre Church or the Sacred Heart chapel. We recommend you see the opening dates and schedules for both so you make sure you don’t miss a thing.
Another typical feature in the holiday season is the Christmas markets in the squares and streets of many towns with their stalls selling food and decorations. Palma is once again the best place to be, particularly the Pueblo Español market (from December 5 to 15), the biggest on the island. Also worth a visit are the Santa Ponça Christmas market (until December 15), which includes a giant LEGO exhibition among many other things, and the central-European-style Christmas Market in Puerto Portals (until 6 January).
If you do visit one of these markets, don’t forget to try some of the local Christmas delicacies. What better than buying a local turrón nougat or the famous Christmas coca?
A MAGICAL CHRISTMAS EVE: THE SONG OF THE SIBYL
The evening of December 24 brings a very unique Mallorcan Christmas tradition which dates back to the 10th century. During Midnight Mass, churches in Mallorca normally perform the Song of the Sibyl, a Gregorian liturgical drama sung in Latin or Catalan which began to be sung on the island after its conquest by King James I in 1229. Mallorca is now practically the only place in the world where the song is sung, earning it UNESCO recognition as an Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2010.
The song is sung by a boy dressed in a tunic and cape. Throughout the song he holds a sword in front of him, which he uses at the end to form the sign of the cross. The lyrics of the song prophesise the arrival of the Final Judgement. The character of the Sibyl was originally a prophetess that people visited to learn about the future for their community, but it was adopted by Christianity and incorporated into Christian traditions.
If you are interested in seeing this very Mallorcan tradition this Christmas, don’t miss the performances at the Lluc Monastery or Palma Cathedral.
MALLORCAN NEW YEAR
On December 31 you have two things you must do if you’re in Mallorca. Every year, the Fiesta del Estandarte commemorates the conquest of Palma de Mallorca by King Jaime I in 1229. Although the celebration has changed over the centuries, the core features of the event have been preserved, especially the raising of a flag in the centre of the Plaza de Cort. It is popularly believed that the Fiesta has its origins in a story about the conquest of the city in which a soldier raised a flag in a defence tower to let Christian troops know they could start the assault as the area was clear of Muslims. A bouquet of flowers is then laid at the foot of the statue of Jaime I in the Plaza de España.
The second tradition is something all Spaniards know about: the bells that end the year and welcome in the new one. As in the rest of the country, everyone has to eat 12 grapes, one for each chime of the clock, accompanied by family and friends and often in the main squares in the towns and cities. The most famous place in Mallorca to celebrate the tradition is obviously Palma, and specifically in the Plaza de Cort.
To complete the welcome for the new year, Palma Auditorium hosts a traditional January 1 New Year Concert. If you love classical music and opera, you should not miss it!
THE THREE KINGS ARRIVE BY SEA
The final Christmas tradition in Mallorca happens every January 5, when the kings of the east visit all the towns in Spain with their pages, and floats that fill the streets with excitement and tons of sweets. The kings also visit the Balearic Islands, with the difference being that the island location means they arrive by sea rather than by land.
If you come from a country that doesn’t celebrate this kind of thing or if you live in a town in the interior, seeing the kings land and disembark accompanied by cheering crowds is an experience that you must not miss. In Mallorca you can see the kings of the east land at the docks of La Lonja in Palma, the Old Port in Alcudia or any of the traditional ports in its coastal towns.