As such, it is still one of the island’s most traditional and important fiestas, observing all the formalities and duties of the original Sant Joan Ciaxers who represent the different social classes of the Middle Ages. However, as in other towns, the Caixer Senyor (nobleman) is replaced with the Caixer Batle (mayor or member of the town councillors) and the Caixer Fadrí is referred to as the Caixer Sobreposat, the young, unmarried flagbearer.
Fornells: Festes de Sant Antoni / San Antonio, fourth weekend in July
The original village of Fornells evolved around the castle of Sant Antoni, built to defend Menorca in 1662 and named after Menorca’s patron saint, Sant Antoni Abad born in 251 AD, also the patron saint of domestic and farm animals, undertakers and skin diseases. When Fornells was given its own fiesta, it was named after the saint. Again, strict fiesta protocol is observed according to tradition with the Ciaxers, magnificent horses and jaleo, cheered on by the crowds. In addition, there are activities for all ages including concerts, children’s workshops, evening markets, a fairground, outdoor dining in the restaurants that line the Paseo Maritim and not forgetting the traditional fiesta snack of ‘coca bamba’ washed down with the fiesta drink of gin and lemon, pomada. Swimming races in the harbour and a spectacular water firework display take place over the port on the final day.
Es Castell: Festes de Sant Jaume / Sant Jaime, Tuesday 24 – Thursday 26 July 2012
Often coinciding with the Fornells fiesta of Sant Antoni, the fiesta of Es Castell celebrates the XVIII British-built town’s patron saint, Sant Jaime or St James the Greater, one of the Disciples and also the patron Saint of Spain. The official saint’s day is 25 July which means the dates remain the same each year. The three day fiesta takes place throughout the streets of Es Castell and, again, the activities follow fiesta traditions with the procession of the Caixers, the jaleo in front of the Town Hall and horse races (corregudes). On the third day, the fiesta moves down to the popular harbour of Calas Fonts where regattas and the traditional swim across the harbour take place. As well as a funfair in the main square and street markets, there is a spectacular firework display at midnight on 25 July on the Isla Plana in Mahon harbour opposite Calas Fonts.
Es Migjorn Gran: Festes de San Cristòfol / Sant Cristobal, fifth weekend in July / first weekend in August
The date of this fiesta in Es Migjorn Gran is always determined by the earlier fiestas of Sant Marti in Es Mercadal, held on the third weekend of July, and Sant Antoni in Fornells, held on the fourth weekend. This means that Sant Cristòfol falls on either the fifth weekend in July or the first weekend in August so that the fiestas take place on successive weekends. The town of Sant Cristòfol developed in the mid 18th century and is named after Saint Christopher, patron saint of travellers, sailors and bachelors. Literally meaning ‘Christ Bearer’, the saint is depicted as a giant of a man with a child on his shoulder and staff in one hand. The parish church of Sant Cristòfol, constructed in 1775, also took on his name. The parish grew and eventually became independent from the municipality of Es Mercadal in 1989, when both it and the town became known as Es Migjorn Gran. The church and fiesta have retained their original names of Sant Cristòfol. Traditionally, the feast day of Saint Christopher is on 25 July, however it is celebrated in Es Migjorn Gran on 10 July, three weeks before the main fiesta.
The Sant Cristòfol festivities start on the Friday, and then the caixers, and horsemen take center stage on the Saturday, following the first notes of the flabiol (flute) which signals the gathering of the cavalcade. The jaleo, horse races and distribution of rose water are all performed according to tradition and the fiesta finishes on the Sunday with a grand firework display. This year marks the 23nd anniversary of Es Migjorn Gran as an independent municipality.