It is a wild one with devils, so be prepared! One of Mallorca’s most celebrated festivals is that of Sant Antoni , a two-day festival, which begins each year on the eve of the Feast of St Anthony, 16 January.
Sant Antoni is the patron saint of animals. He was in fact, an Egyptian Christian monk who, as the story goes, was visited by the Devil, in the guise of a woman whilst living in the desert. Keen to avoid temptation he walked across the burning embers of a fire by way of a distraction and therein was born the tradition of fire and devils on the eve of the 16th January. Great bonfires are lit and crowds dance around them taking part in the ancient ritual of purification and the triumph of good over evil.
It is usual for all the island´s town councils to start building the structure of the bonfire days before. Once the fire is lit the `demons´ (devils) , dressed in masks and carrying flaming torches and letting off fire crackers charge the gathered crowds. A traditional song “Lo Elogi” is repeatedly sung accompanied by “ximbombades” local musicians playing the Mallorcan friction-drums.
When all the crackers have been blasted and the embers of the fire have subsided the festival goers use the embers to grill meat and sausages (often sobrassada and butifarron) all of course washed down with some local wine.
Families and groups of friends gather together for these `torradas´(Mallorcan barbeques) which are great fun and last to the early hours.
Day two of the festival, 17 January is all about the animals. Across the island locals come together to have their animals blessed. After a Mass in honour of the saint, the ‘Beneïdes’ (Blessing) of animals takes place outside the church in all of the island´s towns and villages where all manner of domestic animals (dogs, pigs and chickens, to canaries and horses! ) will be blessed by the priest.
So whatever the Mallorca weather, watch out out for those devils (`dimoni´) and those flying sparks !
January is a super time to travel to Mallorca, offering a better climate than other Northern European countries and, with the daylight hours and the temperatures averaging around 20 degrees, the short dark days of home seem a world away.
The luxury hotels in the `Sleep´section are considerably less expensive than the prices you could pay in the peak season. Be a savvy off-seasoner!