By Monitor

New Year and all that
The festivities naturally enough contributed to the pages last week with Friday’s cover showing a spectacular fire display that put “2015” up in lights, but there was a rather strange occurrence in Portals Nous where a massive concentration of jellyfish put paid to the annual New Year’s swim. The weather over the holidays was at its most capricious. Last Sunday we were able to highlight a “Sunny Christmas”. By Wednesday this had turned into a snowy “Freezing in Majorca”, while two days later “good weather and sunshine” meant a “perfect start to 2015 across the island”.

Festival of the Standard
Coinciding with the New Year celebrations, in Palma at least, was the Festival of the Standard. The Enjoying Majorca pages last Sunday looked at the historical and political development of the festival, described by one author as the “oldest national fiesta in Europe”. In the same issue, historian Andy Rawson in his Majorca’s Days Out column focused on events in 1229 which were to give rise to the fiesta, outlining the assault by King James the Conqueror on New Year’s Eve of that year and the slaughter and flight of the Muslim occupants of Medina Mayûrqa (Palma), and on current-day sites in Palma which relate to what happened all those centuries ago.
As mentioned on this page last week, American anthropologist Jackie Waldren had been invited to deliver the opening address “pregó” for the fiesta. Yesterday, the full text of Jackie’s address was reproduced. It was a broad, fascinating and rich analysis of Majorca’s history, society and culture and of the integration of foreigners, such as herself.
In a different vein but in keeping with the time of year, Charles Harrington-Clarke in the Spiritual Adviser feature (also on Sunday) paid tribute to the Snowball, the advocaat-based drink that he described as “this wonderful retro cocktail”.

The King’s Christmas address
King Felipe’s sister, Princess Cristina, was still very firmly in the news, and we reported on calls for her and her husband, Iñaki Urdangarin, to be stripped of their titles of Duchess and Duke of Palma. The Més socialist-nationalist grouping considered that their keeping of their titles was “an insult to the local population”. Political attitudes at a higher level, i.e. in Madrid, had also hardened. National parliament spokesperson Rafael Hernando suggested that the princess “should reflect on whether she should renounce her rights of succession”.
The King’s Christmas Eve address, in which he didn’t specifically refer to his sister but which contained an assertive attack on corruption, was praised by Jason Moore in the Viewpoint on Tuesday. “A great speech from the new monarch.” Andrew Ede in The Week That Was last Sunday concurred. The address had gone “straight in on corruption”. “It was a bold and strong message.”
Someone else who offered words for the festive season was President Bauzá, who said that the economy in the Balearics will grow by two per cent in 2015 and that 10,000 new jobs will be created. And on economic matters, there was some good news for taxpayers on yesterday’s front page. Those in employment can anticipate an average tax reduction of 12%.

The high cost of property
There were two front-page stories last week which highlighted the cost of property on Majorca. Puerto Andratx has been identified by the real estate agency Engel & Völkers as being the nineteenth most expensive location in the world and the only place in Spain to make it into a list of the top twenty-five highest-priced locations. For commercial property, rents along Palma’s Jaime III were revealed as being the fourteenth most expensive in Spain. The report noted, however, that these high rents were deterring retailers from moving into Jaime III and that some retail spaces have been empty for a long time. Perhaps compounding a problem of already high rents in some parts of Majorca, there was news on Wednesday that a national system of protected rents for small businesses that was originally introduced in 1964 had been scrapped, which could lead to shop closures.

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