24th December – Nochebuena / Nit de Nadal
Christmas Eve is one of the most celebrated evenings in the Christmas calendar across Mallorca. Traditionally many people will come together for an evening mass at the church and listen to ‘Cant de la Sibil·la’ (The Song of the Sibyl) declared a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO on 2010. This Gregorian chant is a Christmas classic, and it is quite an honour to be chosen to sing it. After the evening mass is over, that’s when the really good bit starts. People like to head home with the family, or to a bar, and indulge in a mug of hot chocolate so thick you need a glass of water to chase it down. This is accompanied by some kind of sweet delights such as ensaïmades as pictured above, or possibly even bunyols or churros.
25th December – Navidad / Nadal
Christmas day has, in more recent times, been the families day of choice to share gifts, although this is a fairly new tradition. Some families prefer to wait until the Three Kings to make sure the children stay well behaved over the holiday period. Gift giving aside, Christmas is a day to be together with the family and enjoy a big hearty lunch which can last pretty much all day. Again there are a few classic dishes which crop up in each household. For example sopa de Nadal – a broth with huge pieces of shall pasta stuffed with mince. The main course is usually a suckling pig in most houses. For dessert, there’s always a plethora of turrons of all kinds as well as another cheeky ensaïmada, coca de patata, wafers or the like. Although there are lights and a festive feel around town, the island doesn’t go mad for Christmas trees, that’s not a tradition here, although you will see that some people have adopted it. Around town, you may see quite a few Santas on ladders hanging from peoples balconies. What most people will be interested in is seeing the nativity display set up in the town council building, Cort, in Palma. The model city of Palma is transformed into a Christmas nativity scene with all the authentic Mallorcan traditions dotted around. Gentleman playing cards around a table, girls folk dancing, chickens and farm animals, orange orchards and of course in the middle are the well-known nativity characters.
31st December – Nochevieja / Cap d’any
There are a few traditions around this time in terms of good luck charms and superstitions but one of the main ones is the twelve grapes. During each chime of the bell it’s a race to eat all twelve grapes, once chime at a time. Each grape represents luck and good fortune during the coming year. It may not seem like much of a challenge but the grapes here are huge and still have the seeds in, so by the sixth one it’s pretty difficult to keep going. This is where you can spot the experienced and locals amongst your group.
5th January – Cabalgata de Reyes / Els Reis d’Orient
If you haven’t shared gifts already on Christmas day then excitement at this point is tantamount, and children across the island are brimming with excitement for the arrival of the three Kings (wise men). Towns all over the island will host a parade whereby the three kings will throw out sweeties and some parents may have dropped off gifts to be handed out to their children by the Kings. It’s a very vibrant and bright parade, but it doesn’t beat the smile on the faces of the little ones as they excitedly arrive home to see what the Kings have delivered to them. It’s tonight that most families share gifts, although some do hold off until lunch tomorrow.
6th January – Epifanía del Señor’ / Dia de Reis
This is generally celebrated with a family lunch although the menu can vary in each household. One thing for sure though, there’ll be a roscón de reyes. A ring-shaped pastry decorated with colourful candied fruit and topped with a cardboard crown. Hidden inside are a bean and a King figurine. The lucky one to get the King gets to put on the crown for the day and the unlucky one to receive a bean must buy next years roscón.