etween the 16th and 17th of January the Revetlla de Sant Antoni, that is the Saint Anthony Festivities, are held in Majorca and also in other parts of Spain.
In many cities and villages people set up bonfires, parades, bizarre dancing performances and street parties that runs late into the night.
If you are in Majorca during those days, you will experience an original version of this wonderful island. In fact, the Revetlla de Sant Antoni are the perfect opportunity to mix with the residents and appreciate their folklore and traditions.
The streets are filled with singing crowds, the sound of traditional tambourines spreads everywhere and here and there strange dancing figures catch the attention of adults and children.
These dancers are performing the Ball dels Dimoni, the dance of the devils, the main attraction of the festivity.
The Ball dels Dimoni is a very simple but evocative dance. The dancers wear bizarre suits and masks that make them look like devils or monsters and they usually hold a stick or pitchfork with which they frighten the children.
The dancers are even more impressive when they perform at night, around the foguerons (bonfires).
These performances resembles one of the most famous episodes of Saint Anthony’s life.
Saint Anthony was an Egyptian hermit who is said to have lived in the desert of Tebaide for a while. During this period the devils tried to tempt him in many different ways: they took the form of a half-naked woman or a threatening dragons, and they beat him. But he always stayed strong. Despite this, the devils continued to persecute him.
During the Middle Ages, a Dominican friar called Jacobus da Varagine wrote about Saint Anthony. One of his legend tells that Sant Antonio lived in the desert with a pig and that at the time fire didn’t exist yet.
One day the governors of the Earth asked him to descend into Hell to get the fire to warm up humanity, so Sant Antonio left with the pig and reached the door of Hell.
When the devils saw him they didn’t let him in, but didn’t notice the pig that somehow managed to sneak in.
The animal began to run everywhere and make a mess and the devils repeatedly failed to capture it. Finally, they asked Saint Anthony to come and get him back.
While he was going back home with the pig, Anthony put his stick near the flames of Hell, and that’s how he brought fire to humanity.
This story about Saint Anthony and the little pig is probably the reason behind the fact that he is considered as the patron saint of animals.
Well, if you are In Majorca during the Revetlla de Sant Antoni and you are traveling with your pet, I suggest you to ‘do what locals do’ and bring your animal to the church for the mass blessing.
The tradition of blessing animals, especially pigs, was actually born in medieval Germany. At the time it was customary for the villages to breed a pig for the local hospital, usually run by the monks of St. Anthony.
The atmosphere during the Revetlla de Sant Antoni in Majorca is festive and engaging. The interesting thing is that every city has its own peculiarities and its own calendar of related events. The main cities in which to spend the Saint Anthony Festivities are Sa Pobla, Manacor, Pollença, Artà, Andratx, Son Servera, Algaida and Muro.
And if the Revetlla de Sant Antoni is not enough for you, stay a few more days in Majorca! On the 19th of January the bonfires are lit again for the Revetlla de Sant Sebastià, a feast day that is particularly felt in Palma.
As for any other fokloristic celebration, the Revetlla de Sant Antoni is an excellent opportunity for visitors to taste typical dishes. Two products that you absolutely must try are sobrassada and botifarros. Both are sausages made with pork and spices.
I’m sure you’ll have a lot of fun!