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How are Lent and Easter celebrated in Mallorca?

a large tall tower with a clock on the side of a building

Our culture is still very marked by celebrations related to Catholic customs: Christmas, the Three Wise Men, Carnival, Lent and of course, Easter.

In this article we are going to focus on how Mallorcans celebrate Lent and Easter: 

The Lent in Mallorca

During Lent, tradition dictates that you cannot eat meat. How come? 

The time of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and this year runs from February 26 to April 9, ending on Resurrection Sunday. Lent represents the preparation to live the mysteries of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. For this reason, they avoid eating red meat during the 40 days of Lent and replace it with white meat. Why red meat is not eaten in Lent has different answers:

One explanation is that meat is replaced not by colour but by essences. Red meat comes from warm-blooded land mammals and is associated with the mundane, while white meat is considered volatile and cold-blooded from aerial or aquatic animals. Another historical explanation of why you eat white meat instead of red meat comes from the association of pleasures and lust. Lent is aimed at remembering the sacrifice of Jesus, and therefore it is necessary to limit the intake of food and the foods that promote lust and, therefore, sex.

According to the Hebrew Bible, they can eat birds and fish in the Lenten season because the two species come from the waters; for formerly the division of edible animals was made between those who came from the land and those from the sea and the wind. The more orthodox Catholics renounce red meat consumption throughout Lent, others decide to make this sacrifice every Friday of Lent and others just don’t eat meat on Good Friday. On several occasions, Pope Francis has said that the Lenten season is not just about what you can and cannot eat; it is about doing acts of charity. In addition, several archbishops around the world have declared that eating red meat during Lent is not a sin, as it was once considered a luxury.

Na Jaia Corema

After Carnival day, Lent arrives and with it, one of the most typical Mallorcan traditions: ‘Sa Jaia Corema’. This old woman figure made with paper or wood has 7 legs that represent the 7 weeks of Lent. Families used to have this figure hanging in the kitchen or the dining room and each Sunday they cut one of the legs. On Easter Saturday they would burn the figure welcoming Easter time!!

How to celebrate Easter in Mallorca

Probably, you have listened or watched in TV that in Spain, during the holy week, parades of crucifixions and cone hat people looking like KKK, walk thru the main streets of each Spanish city. In Mallorca, we are not an exception: each brotherhood takes out their costumes and a bunch of penitents carry the figures of Jesus on the cross and Virgin Mary crying cause her suffering.  Those effigies are not precisely light. The “costaleros”, the men that carry the images, train during the whole year to be prepared for this honorific job.

Easter in Mallorca is a bit different; we do not feel this “passion” that you can admire from our parishes in south Spain. In the island, Easter is a very familiar time and a lot of gastronomic tradition. Families gather on Holy Thursday to bake some typical pastries, both sweet and savoury. These buns can be found all year round in any of the bakeries and pastries on the island but the beauty of this tradition is the fact, gather as a family and doing something together enjoying each other. 

Let’s explain the most typical pastries that Mallorcans love baking: panades, robiols and crespells. 

Les Panades o Empanadas

traditional mallorcan food - empanades

The Panades are typical meat pies made with a savoury dough and filled with lamb or pork meat, peas and sobrassada sausage. 

The Mallorcan empanada is related in the Jewish empanadas. They come from an ancient Hebrew dish described in the Talmud called “paichida”

The use of lard and pork leftovers is interpreted as a way to Christianize the original Jewish recipe, we happen with other products such as the “ensaïmada” during the conversion of the Jews to Christianity in the fifteenth century. It is said that their consumption was initiated by the converts themselves, forced to demonstrate publicly that they renounced Judaism. Therefore, if they ate products made from lard, they showed the rest of the population their complete conversion to Christianity.Sobrasada at the Olivar Market in Palma

Anyway, the origin of this pie is surely as old as the bread. In fact “Panada” comes from the word “Pan” (bread) in Spanish. With different masses and fillings depending on the location, we can find them from Africa to South America. It is very likely that it was born out of the need to protect food from the climate and prolong its conservation, since cooking highly seasoned meat and wrapping it in the dough can be maintained in good condition and is even more digestive

For the dough, we will need 1 Kg flour, 250 gr lard, 125 ml oil, 250 ml water, 3 egg yolks.For the filling, a leg of lamb, sobrasada de Mallorca, Iberian Bacon, Peas, Red Paprika, Pepper, Salt and Oil. The process is not complicated; first, you need to season the peas and the lamb (preciously chopped in small pieces)  with olive oil, paprika, pepper and salt. Apart, we mix all the ingredients for the dought minus the flour that we will be adding little by little until reaching a homogenous dough. We make little baskets with the dough and fill them with some pieces of lamb, bacon,sobrasada and peas and finally we cover it with another fine piece of dough. It’s important to join the pieces of dought in order that when baking, the filling don’t get out. Then mark them with a fork on the cover to let the steam release and bake them until golden. We normally eat them when cooled down.  Bon appetit!

Robiols

They are sweet cookies shaped in a half-moon and filled with different flavours: cottage cheese, “Cabell d’Àngel” (“Angel’s Hair” is a jam made from pumpkins), apricot jam, custard cream or chocolate. My favourite one is cottage cheese, no doubt. 

Possibly its origin is Jewish and it is related to dried, unleavened pastries that were consumed during the Hebrew Passover and symbolized the unleavened bread that the Israelites took when they left Egypt.

The secret of this island delight is the choice of local products for its preparation. For the dough is used 1Kg of pastry flour, 130 g of sugar, 1 cup of oil, orange juice, 3 egg yolks and 400 g of lard. For its preparation it is necessary to mix the juice of the oranges, if they are of Sóller better, with the rest of the ingredients until a homogeneous and consistent dough remains, leaving it to rest a few minutes. Then it is given the desired thickness with a roller making circles of about 15 or 20 cm. Then they are filled and closed giving them the shape of a half-moon. Now you have to put them in the oven until looks baked. Easy, right?

Crespells

Crespells are delicious cookies of different shapes and sizes, which are eaten throughout the year, but traditionally it is at Easter when family and friends meet to prepare them. Together with the robiols and the panades it is part of the traditional gastronomy of Easter, although it is believed that the origin of these rich pastas is Jewish, hence its most typical form is the flower of six petals, the same number of points as the star of David. Nowadays its forms are varied; stars, hearts, flowers, fish and with different thicknesses, in the municipality of Manacor and other localities of the east there is a variety of crespells with a finer thickness and with human forms that they call senyorets (gentlemen).

To make these delicious pastas you need, lemon zest and half a glass of orange juice, half a glass of oil, 100 grams of lard, flour, 200 grams of sugar. Don’t forget to choose local products, such as Sóller oranges or Mallorcan oil, recommended for pastries to get the authentic Balearic flavour. Then you just have to mix the ingredients until you get a homogeneous dough. Help yourself from a roll to get the thickness you want, and then you can cut the dough with the moulds the way you like and bake for about twenty minutes. To finish, sprinkle the crespells with icing sugar and ready to eat.

Would you like to make a workshop with us and learn from locals how to make these delicacies? Do not hesitate to book a pastry workshop with us!

Bakery Cooking Class with a Local Foundation

Learn how to bake Mallorcan pastries, buns, and cakes with a local social foundation. Come and join us in a…

Learn how to bake Mallorcan pastries, buns, and cakes with a local social foundation. Come and join us in a bakery experience and learn how to make Mallorcan favorite pastries!

Bakery Cooking Class with a Local Foundation

Learn how to bake Mallorcan pastries, buns, and cakes with a local social foundation. Come and join us in a bakery experience and learn how to make Mallorcan favorite pastries!

Buenos Días Mallorca

Don’t worry, this isn’t your typical Spanish lesson — we’re going to skip the classroom and dig into a Mallorca-style…

Don’t worry, this isn’t your typical Spanish lesson — we’re going to skip the classroom and dig into a Mallorca-style breakfast.

Buenos Días Mallorca

Don’t worry, this isn’t your typical Spanish lesson — we’re going to skip the classroom and dig into a Mallorca-style breakfast.

Custom Tours

Love the look of our Mallorca tours, but feel like customising them to make exactly the tour you're looking for?

Love the look of our Mallorca tours, but feel like customising them to make exactly the tour you're looking for?

Custom Tours

Love the look of our Mallorca tours, but feel like customising them to make exactly the tour you're looking for?