The climbing of the greased pine of Ternelles on the evening of 17 January is a highlight of Pollensa's celebrations for the Sant Antoni fiestas. A prize for the person who reaches the top of the pine is a cockerel which is in a basket.
For some years, Pollensa town hall has been put under pressure to stop allowing the use of the live cockerel. Animal welfare organisations have argued that there is a contravention of the 1992 Balearic law on animal protection. Last year, a motion raised by the Alternativa per Pollença to ban the use of the cockerel was not passed, but mayor Miquel Àngel March, who had supported the motion, nevertheless announced that there would not be a cockerel for this year's climb. And he has stuck by this announcement.
The town hall was fined 1,500 euros by the Guardia Civil last year. It wasn't the first time that there had been an intervention by the authorities. The basis for the opposition to the use of the cockerel stems from the fact that the 1992 law did permit live animals for fiesta events such as the climb so long as it could be shown that there was an unbroken tradition of one hundred or more years. The earliest documented evidence of the cockerel dates from 1897. Therefore, at the time that the law was passed, the tradition was not one hundred years old.
The law made clear that animals could not be used if they were subjected to unnatural treatment, if they suffered in some way or if their use offended spectators. There was, however, the exception clause regarding the length of a tradition.
March argued last year that there was unnatural treatment, and he has confirmed that each year there is notification from the environment and agriculture ministry about the legal situation. So, there will be no cockerel this year.
It has yet to be decided if a cockerel will be given as a prize to the person who scales the pine - he or she has to empty a bag of confetti as well - or if there will be some symbol of the cockerel in the basket. Whatever decision is made, the first person up the pine will still also get to keep the 200 euros that are in the basket.
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