Carrying the Standard. | Pere Bota

After two years of Covid, Palma was able to fully celebrate the Festa de l'Estendard on Saturday. The Festival of the Standard, one of Europe's oldest civil festivals, commemorates the taking of Madina Mayurqa (Palma) by Jaume I of Aragon on New Year's Eve, 1229.

Far removed from the rituals and lavish ceremony that had existed until the early eighteenth century and the dismantling of the Kingdom of Mallorca and Crown of Aragon by Felipe V of Spain, the current-day festival is no more than symbolic. The Standard, as is custom, was carried from the town hall building by the mayor and officials and placed in the centre of Plaça Cort while the Palma Municipal Band played the Mallorcan hymn, La Balanguera.

Dignitaries, which included twenty mayors from Mallorca, then made their way to the Cathedral, as did pipers, cossier and cavallet dancers. President Armengol and the president of the Council of Mallorca, Catalina Cladera, were at the doors of the Cathedral to join them for mass. The Bishop of Mallorca, Sebastià Taltavull, paid tribute to former Pope Benedict XVI.

Following the service, it was back to Plaça Cort for the representation of Sa Colcada by Música Nostra singer Miquela Lladó and the Mallorca School of Music and Dance. Sa Colcada is a poem that was written in 1862 by Pere d'Alcàntara Penya. It tells of how the festival used to be in those grand days before Felipe V's Nueva Planta decree ended the Kingdom of Mallorca. It was first recited for the festival in 1935 but it was to be thirty more years before it became an established part of the programme.