These past few months have seen us with fiestas coming out of our ears, as towns and villages across the island have stepped up to put on their annual autumn shows.
Whether it’s a simple ‘produce’ fair showcasing honey, or a two day extravaganza like ‘Dijous Bo’ showcasing everything under the island sun, the input and enthusiasm surrounding these events is astounding.
Some fairs are very low key, others are wildly boisterous. Yet irrespective of size or content the emotion behind the island’s ‘fiesta’ tradition commands great respect.
Having lived on the island for the best part of fifteen years, and visiting for over thirty, I have witnessed a fair amount of fiestas, along with all the parades, dancers, musicians, demonis, drummers, fire runs etc. that make their anticipated appearances year after year, fiesta after fiesta.
But like most dedicated followers who regularly patronise these annual events, Other Half and I never get fed up or bored with it all, even if we have been there before, done it all and bought the T’shirt.
We both simply love it, and adore all the local fairs and traditions that keep Majorca’s valued culture alive and kicking by hosting these wonderful, island wide entertainments.
But all this culture comes at a price, and I don’t mean the obvious financial cost.
I’m talking about the dedicated teams of organisers and performers who regularly give up hours of their time in order to keep these local customs living and breathing for future generations to enjoy.
Take traditional Majorcan folk dancing for example.
Those colourful troupes, consisting of both male and female dancers, are accompanied by singers and musicians, all of whom are committed and dedicated to hours of practice and rehearsal, simply for our entertainment.
The dancers start learning the moves as young as four years old, and although it all begins as a bit of fun at school, it’s the passion for preserving the island’s history of tradition that drives these performers onwards.
It is probably a bit easier for the girls to grow up and become part of a regular dance troupe.
For the boys, I imagine it takes a lot more determination to continue with dance classes and constant rehearsals when there is the permanent distraction from x-box, computers, social media and lads’ stuff that could easily drive potential dancers of around fourteen/fifteen years old, ‘off piste’.
So a big ‘well done’ to all those lads who smash it, and support the valued preservation of their age old customs and traditions.
The musicians, ‘xeremiers’ and ‘batucada’ drummers also start very young, and are as equally committed to the cause. Although, as an outsider, it might seem much more fun for a fourteen year old lad to bash a noisy drum than spin himself dizzy in baggy pantaloons and dance pumps.
That’s why they are all so individually brilliant for embracing and celebrating these heart felt traditions which have been passed down from generation to generation, and taken responsibility for keeping the identity of Majorcan culture current and available to the masses.
Very few of these enthusiastic performers are professional.
Most hold down jobs and simply volunteer their talent out of sheer generosity for the occasion.
The same goes for all those volunteers who, although not performing themselves, are helping out in the background to make the party swing.
When you think how some youth cultures spend most of their time stressing over how many ‘likes’ their latest selfie posting has flagged up, it makes me proud to be living in a community alongside these youngsters who are not blatantly wasting their lives with trivia, but contributing to a very real and living lifestyle, because they care about their cultural future.
We once witnessed a spectacular display by ‘dimonis’ and ‘correfocs’ at a cultural feria in Mancor de la Vall.
It was raining that evening so touch and go as to whether the performance would actually take place.
Fortunately it did, and the dramatic show-piece was an explosion of pure theatre.
We have seen many ‘fire run’ performances before, but this extravaganza was absolutely outstanding, and yet another continued example of commitment to local story-telling and tradition.
The Majorcans, like their Spanish cousins, just love celebrating in crowds. They love their loud music, their rhythms of colour, lively laughter and the big get together, regardless of what is going on in the world around them.
They support their fiestas wholeheartedly, and that in itself takes a lot of commitment.
Just getting there can sometimes be a trial, what with parking (or no parking) the weather etc. But come rain or shine, nothing seems to dampen the Majorcan spirit when it comes to turning up for a free ‘do’.
And in a world where there’s not much to jump up and down about at the moment, thank goodness for island tradition!