Carnival in Palma, by Toni Vives (Professor at CIEE Palma de Mallorca, Spain)
Carnival time is celebrated widely in February on Mallorca prior to the onset of spring and the Lent fast. All schools recognise the public holiday celebration of «Carnival Thursday,» or Dijous Llarder as it is known in the local Mallorquín language. Colouful parades are the order of the day with neighbourhoods taking dressing up and disguises as a serious challenge. Groups compete against one another for prizes for the most original and eye-catching outfits.
On Menorca, and especially in the town of Ciutadella, the festival of San Juan is celebrated with intense fervour by local people and was recently presented to UNESCO as a candidate for a world heritage protection award. The celebrations held on days before and after 24th June, draw crowds from far afield. They centre around the importance of horses which race through the streets driven on by riders clad in 18th century attire.
The climax of the ritual is the moment at which the horses charge through the thronged streets and rear up in the main square in front of the town hall. The onlookers in the front rows press forward as strongly as they can to touch the horses for luck, sparking an atmosphere which can be recreated nowhere else.
The main festivals held in Ibiza are those of San Ciriaco and Santa María de las Nieves. Both are fiestas which celebrate the sanctity of the land, commemorating the Catalan conquest of the Island on 8th August, 1235.
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