While for locals the fiestas are a great chance to have fun, party with friends and celebrate their patron saint, they can be quite a culture shock for first timers. The loud cheering crowds, the beat of the fiesta music and the opportunity to see the beautiful horses parading in the streets are a spectacle not to be missed. So, here is our brief survival guide to ensure you are well equipped and ready to join in with the fun.
Five tips to make fiesta time more fun for all the family
- Dress down: No need for fiesta frocks or smart shirts! To fully enjoy the fun of the fiesta, put on a pair of pumps to keep your toes safe from the sand, and shorts and t-shirts that you don’t mind getting messy.
- Be safe in the sun: Slap on the sunscreen and pop on a hat – if not you’ll be so worn out with the sunshine you won’t want to join the party.
- Horses beware! Keep on your toes if you dare to join locals in the centre of the ‘Jaleo’ as a horse could well rear up behind you! To get close up to these four legged beauties in a safer setting, wander through the back streets where riders await their turn.
- Kids can come too: Children might not like the chaos in the plaza, but there are plenty of other attractions. Whether they be fairgrounds or fireworks, parades or performances, they’re part of the party too.
- Eat, drink and be merry: For a three course meal, go to another town! Locals snack on the streets – there’s fast food, rolls and pastries on every street corner. And with a pomada in hand, don’t forget to wish your friends ‘Bones Festes’!
The fiesta of Sant Martí, Es Mercadal Explained: Saturday 20 – Monday 22 July 2013
The build up begins during the week before the fiesta of Sant Martí (Saint Martin of Tours), the streets are decorated with colourful bunting and on the Friday evening the fiestas are officially announced.
On Saturday, at around 17.00 hours, the bells ring out and the Fabioler (flute player) arrives on a donkey at the Town Hall and formally asks the Mayor for permission to start the fiesta. From the balcony, he plays the first notes on the flute to the cheers of the expectant crowd below before proceeding to summon the Caixer Sobreposat, who will carry the flag of Sant Martí and lead the cavalcade.
They collect the fiesta flag from the Town Hall and round up the rest of the Caixers according to protocol, starting with the Caixer Pagès, a farmer from the district, the Caixer Casat, a craftsmen, the Caixer Capellà, who represents the Church, and finally, the Caixer Batle who represents the Town Hall, presides over the cavalcade and organises the celebrations. After collecting the Staff of Office from the Town Hall which is presented to the Caixer Batle, they proceed to the Plaça Constitució, where the horses, adorned with braided manes and rosettes, and their immaculately dressed riders perform the ‘Jaleo’ to the delight of the crowd. The bravest amongst them try to touch the horses’ hearts as they rear up and dance to the traditional fiesta music.
Just before midnight the caixers and local authorities gather at the parish church of Sant Martí for the Compline (evening) service, during which ‘candeletes’ (small candles) are handed out. The celebrations continue with music and dancing until dawn.
On Sunday, at 09.00 hours, the Fabioler sets off to collect the cavalcade following the same route asthe previous day. The second Jaleo takes place in the main square, after which the riders are presented with the traditional green canes and silver spoons before attending Mass in the church of Sant Martí, during which rose water (aigua-ros) is distributed. The caixers together with all the cavalcade and local authorities are then invited by the town council to the traditional reception or (beguda). Once the Caixer Capellà and Caixer Batle have been escorted home and the fiesta flag and Staff of Office have been returned to the Town Hall, the final notes are played on the flute and the youngest horse riders distribute the rose water to houses in the town. Folk dancing and music continue well into the early hours.
The following day, a programme of events take place throughout the day, including children’s entertainment, concerts and games, and finishing with a grand firework display and public dance to live music at midnight.
For the full Es Mercadal, Sant Martí fiesta programme of events, click here. The fiesta programmes for Fornells, Sant Antoni and Es Castell, Sant Jaume will be posted in our What’s On section very soon.