Christmas is the perfect time to showcase Majorca’s traditions and customs. Its gastronomy and local ingredients range from its meat to its vegetables, almonds and oil to locally produced wines. There are many events to get locals and tourists alike in the festive spirit, including nativity scenes that have been declared an “Asset of Cultural Interest” by UNESCO and one of the oldest Christmas festivals in the world, dating back to the 13th Century.
Traditional dishes include: escaldums, porcella or coca de torró
Majorcans celebrate both Christmas Day, on 25 December and St. Stephen’s Day or “the second Christmas party”, on 26 December. For dinner, the island’s tradition is to start with a soup prepared with pasta called galets, filled with minced meat. the tasty escaldums, a stew of poultry, almonds and potatoes or porcella, baked suckling pig with potatoes, another of Majorca’s festive food essentials.
For dessert, nougat is a must for a Majorcan Christmas. Coca de torró stands out, with a base of locally grown almonds and sugar, which create a soft dough that is transformed into cake covered by wafers. Neules – wafer biscuits, potato cocas, a kind of cake, or the typical ensaimadas, are also found around the table at Christmas lunches and dinners.
The feast can be complimented by the island’s delicious red and white wines. Majorca stands out for its great variety of high-quality wines with the DOC designation of origin of Binissalem and Pla i Llevant, and the geographical locations of Vi de la Terra Mallorca, Vi de la Terra Illes Balears and Vi de la Terra Serra de Tramuntana-Costa Nord.
Nativity scenes, festivals and Christmas markets
The beginning of winter coincides with the arrival of Christmas and Majorca marks the occasion by illuminating its towns and cities with colourful lights and flooding its streets with Christmas sounds. Another of Majorca’s traditions is to visit the different nativity scenes. Palma has one of the oldest displays, the Monumental Bethlehem in the convent of The Caputxines, declared an UNESCO “Asset of Cultural Interest”. Another of Palma customs is to walk through the Christmas and artisan market in Plaza Mayor, which is filled with nativity scenes and Christmas trees.
There is a special event that stands out above the others, it is the Cant de la Sibil·la that takes place on 24December. Along with Alghero in Italy, Majorca is the only place where this traditional medieval Christmas reenactment continues to be celebrated, also declared an “Asset of Cultural Interest” by UNESCO. Although there are many parishes that follow this tradition, those that are carried out in the Matines of the Sanctuary of Lluc and that of the Cathedral of Palma itself stand out, due to the grandeur of the space.
Another island celebration on 31 December in Palma, is the Festa de l’Estendard. This commemorates the incorporation of the island into the European Christian Kingdoms and is one of the oldest festivals in Europe, originating in the thirteenth century. This is also declared an Intangible Cultural Asset by UNESCO.