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Carnival in Mallorca

a group of stuffed animals

What’s Carnival? What’s its origin? Why we celebrate it? 

Carnival is a celebration that takes place immediately before of Lent, that actually starts on Ash Wednesday. That is, the carnival is actually a holiday-related to the Catholic faith. Well, yes and no! 

The carnival is, quite possibly, the pagan festival that most people celebrate and enjoy all over the planet. Days of dancing, costumes and lots of fun. The act of dressing up, painting one’s face and celebrating it is an act that goes back to antiquity and there is some evidence that the Sumerian (Mesopotamia)  people already carried out this type of celebration 5,000 years ago.

a person standing in front of a crowdWas later that, following the expansion of Christianity, when the festivity went up and the festival acquired the name of carnival, having as its main motive the fact of saying goodbye to eating meat and leading a licentious life during the time of Lent. 

The origin of the word is simple: Loan (fifteenth century) of the Italian carnevale and this of carnelevale, alteration of the Latin carnelevare, composed of “carne” (meat) and “levare” (remove), by reference to the tradition of not eating meat during the fast of Lent. Now everything makes sense, huh?

Formerly, there were three days of a big celebration, where, almost everything was permitted. There’s the reason for covering faces to save the anonymity. 

Nowadays in Mallorca, the festivity has lost importance and we only celebrate one day of dressing up. Even so, that day the city becomes a huge conglomerate of carnivals, parties, parades and lots of fun with the traditional public celebrations of Sa Rua.

In schools, teachers cheer up the children to dress up, each class of the same theme. Moreover, some schools prepare their own parade where parents and tutors are invited to watch the show of hundreds of mini persons moving around on a choreography all dressed up in the same way. 

In some towns like Esporles, closed circles of people dress up with a theme and parade in front of all the town. Music, drums, theatre, dancing, decorated trucks and even confetti, glow and furnish the streets. I’ve seen even a bunch of riders with their horses, all worn in black capes, pretending they were the Nazgul from the Lord of the Rings. They made the show!

Although I am hearing more and more that people that actually hate dressing up or feel lazy about it, there are others that really take conscious and enjoy the festivity in it splendorous. You should see how some locals work hard to make their costumes, some of them for months, so then they can show off!

What we recommend is that you enjoy the party, the parades, the music in the streets, the sound of people laughing and having fun… Join us on this day of being whoever you wish to be, but you!

The “Jaia Corema” tradition


She is an old woman of paper, cardboard or painted wood, representing Lent, very thin, with a cod in one hand and a bunch of carrots in the other, and with seven legs and seven teeth, which represents the seven weeks of Lent. On the first day of Lent each family hung the “Jaia” in the kitchen or in the dining room and every Sunday they cut off one leg of the seven she has. On Easter Saturday they took it away or burn it.

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