Carnival moments for 2024. | Peter Clover


Mancor de la Vall dozes peacefully on the southern slopes of the Sierra de Tramuntana mountain range, engulfed in a cozy surround of quaint stone houses and cobbled streets. There is also a Town Hall so I suppose it really qualifies as a small town. Yet whether town or village, Mancor de la Vall has thankfully not yet been discovered by mass tourism, and is generally only known by courtesy of the well-informed traveller who ventures to this particular neck of the woods with Mancor in mind.

Peaceful and quiet it may be, but the inhabitants of Mancor de la Vall are far from retiring or boring. Over the weekend of 9/10 February, sparkling costumes, feathered apparel, glittering cloaks, fairy wings and colourful wigs were seen, flitting between bars as the village celebrated ‘Carnival’. And that was only the men!

Sa Rua’ is a massive, colourful island fiesta and was celebrated with parties and parades everywhere, filling the island streets with fun, frivolity and laughter as the carnival vibe once again took hold across the Balearics. Most towns and villages in Mallorca dutifully organised their own private carnival celebrations, with the largest floats and parades naturally, and spectacularly headlining in the Palma capital.

Our own carnival here in Mancor celebrated with fun-filled children’s activities along with a masked ball for the grown-ups, which was when all the glitter wigs came out. It seriously doesn’t take much to get those party-going, fun-loving Mallorcan men into high heels and a sparkling Abba wig! It’s just another one of those Spanish things!!! And even the threat of rain didn’t deter their enthusiasm.

But Carnival in Mancor was not essentially earmarked entirely for the grown ups, as you would have probably realised if you’d witnessed the plethora of Disney Princesses and Superheroes gracing local village environs. Everyone knows that children like nothing more than dressing up and displaying their more creative and outgoing sides; particularly spirited Mallorcan children who seem to be ‘born to perform’ without an ounce of shyness amongst them. I suppose when growing up on an island which celebrates the generosity of so many fiestas, the children are almost impregnated at birth with the island’s infectious party spirit, along with lungs of leather, a necessary requirement needed to scream excitedly above the cacophony of celebration.

Traditionally, here in Mancor de la Vall, the ‘Sa Rua Fiesta’ concluded its week of carnival with a rather sombre finale – a traditional tongue-in-cheek ‘funeral’, which took place in our village on the evening of Tuesday 13th with a burial service for the trusty sardine!

In Mallorca, and also documented across Spain, there is an age-old ceremony showcasing ‘the burial of the sardine’, accompanied by a mock funeral service culminating with an effigy of the said fish being thrown onto a large funeral pyre. This slightly bizarre ceremony led the way to a final night of celebration including a BBQ of sardines, along with the traditional drinking, dancing, swirling and twirling! Yet, regardless of being a fish fan or not, a portion of salty sardine, along with a glass of wine, was offered to all who attended this most fun yet freaky of festive frivolities.

The first time I tried a traditional sun dried and salted sardine, I wasn’t very impressed, mainly because I just grilled it then ate it. It was like eating 6 very salty bags of crisps all at once. Then a local showed me the right way to proceed and how to eat the salty sardines properly, like a Mallorcan!

Firstly, you toast the fish over a BBQ flame. Then you wrap the charred sardine between a few sheets of newspaper, making a tasty little parcel. If it’s the Bulletin, make sure you’ve read it first! Then, you either stomp on it beneath a well-turned heel, or place it between a door jamb and press the fishy parcel flat as a pancake. Remarkably, when you peel back the newspaper, the salty skin of the sardine has stuck to the paper, and the tender flesh inside just flakes away. And that’s how you eat it, with your fingers from the newspaper. Add a few chips, some mushy peas and it would be just like home!

The satirical sardine ceremony is based on the traditional belief of symbolically burying the past, whilst highlighting hopes for a better and more fruitful future, while also marking the beginning of Lent. So let’s hope this coming year sprinkles more hope and happiness to everyone across the world.

Until next year. Molts D’Anys!