Dijous Bo, always packed. | Jaume Morey

In 1258, Pere I d'Urgell, aka Pere de Portugal, bestowed favours on the village of Inca. Pere was the 'Senyor' (Lord) of Mallorca and so it was in his gift to do such things like bestow favours, which in this instance included animal pens and some storage space. More than this, Pere created a market, which was to be held on a Thursday.

He didn't get to see much of this market as he died the same year, but his favour was to result in excursions coaches arriving in Inca each Thursday many centuries later and also a fair, the biggest fair of all in Mallorca, Dijous Bo.

The literal translation is Good Thursday, with connotations from the past referring to the size and scale of the fair, the time of the year for the fair and the trade that could be had. Plenty of history has attached itself to Dijous Bo and to the three autumn fairs which precede it, but it isn't known for certain when these fairs actually started. As Sineu boasts a May fair from 1318, though even this is debated, it can be assumed that Inca's were from roughly the same time.

And both Inca and Sineu would have enjoyed royal privilege. This was necessary in order to be able to hold a fair, as both villages were to appreciate when Llucmajor decided that it wanted a fair in the sixteenth century. The Holy Roman Emperor Carlos V (also Carlos I of Castile) eventually said yes to the Llucmajor petition. In 1546, despite Inca and Sineu having filed a lawsuit to stop Llucmajor having a fair, the first was held. There were four autumn fairs in all, just like those in Inca, where the authorities were forced to accept the emperor's decree with "dignified jealousy".

These fairs in Mallorca's 'part forana' (away from the Ciutat, Palma) were a statement of rural power in what was typically a pretty fractious relationship with the city, its nobles and its financial patricians. In 1463, this bad blood led to a plot to assassinate nobles, knights and other eminent Palma individuals who would be going to the Inca fairs. This was a plot against the background of the Catalan Civil War, when there was plenty of support for Catalonia in the part forana against the Grand General Council in Palma, which had decided to support Joan II of Aragon against rebellious forces in Barcelona. The plot was foiled and the fates of conspirators were far from pleasant.

It was 1807 before there was any documented reference to Dijous Bo as such. This was in the chronicles of a nun, Sister Clara Andreu i Malferit. According to Sister Clara, there was one special Thursday "market" - Dijous Bo.

Nowadays, this is a fair which is a grand social occasion for the whole of the island, one attended by eminent individuals from Palma who are far more welcome than those of 1463. It isn't only Good Thursday, as Dimecres Bo (Good Wednesday) has turned the old market into a two-day event celebrating, above all, an island rural and agricultural tradition. The animal pens that are needed are somewhat larger than those that Pere I d'Urgell would have provided for the village.

Wednesday, November 16:

10am-8pm: Agricultural machinery. Gran Via de Colom. 10am-10pm: Traditional farmers' market. Plaça Bestiar and elsewhere. 10am-12 noon: Horse skills. Plaça Font Vella. From 12 noon: Livestock exhibition. Plaça Bestiar. 1pm: Mallorcan black pig competition. Plaça Bestiar. 5.30pm: Dijous Bo inauguration, followed by procession by pipers and folk dancers. Plaça Bestiar. (Fairground, General Luque Quarter.)

Thursday, November 17:

9.30am-5.30pm: Livestock exhibition. Plaça Bestiar. 10am-8pm: Traditional farmers' market. Plaça Bestiar and elsewhere; Trade fair. Plaça Mallorca. 10am-1.30pm: Horse skills. Plaça Font Vella. 1pm: Prizes for the Mallorcan black pig competition. Plaça Bestiar. (Fairground, General Luque Quarter.)