Sant Antoni – what is it and how it differs from San Sebastian.
I will immediately add that I am not a great expert in history. All the information I write in here I get from my friends Piotr (Spaniards), Michalina (who is currently studying, among others, knowledge about Balearic Islands) also from the internet and of course some of them by my experience! This holiday is a bit puzzling and I’m honestly surprised that it plays such a big role in Mallorca, as well as in other parts of Spain. I do not think that attention is paid in Poland to celebrating such holidays like Sant Antoni.
In every region of Spain, these holidays are celebrated a little differently.
That’s why I decided to describe how I celebrated this holiday in Majorca. I will even add that in Majorca this holiday is celebrated differently – depending on the city! There are different things in each day, at different times. There may be different things to which more weight is attached.
Sant Antoni is the patron of animals.
You can associate the legend of Saint Antoni, which you were told on religion/ethic class in school. He worshiped animals and accompanied them throughout his life. One day God appeared to him. At the instigation of Sant Antoni, he sold all his achievements and gave the earned money to the poor people. He lived in the Theb cave as God told him to. There he was teased by demons, which he resisted as much as he had strength. One day he gave up cause he was too weak and God repelled demons from him by casting light from the sky into the cave. It effectively scared them away and they never came back again.
When and how is Sant Antoni handled?
The celebration lasts two days! 16 January and 17 January. The biggest event takes place in Sa Pobla. It takes place very pompously. Mostly in Majorca. Every town in Mallorca cares to a greater or lesser extent. The next cities worth visiting on January 16 are Arta and Manacor. What does celebration look like? From the morning big piles for bonfires are prepared. Demons and templates are often hung on them, where people write something like a prayer – unless it is too much said. They pray to Sant Antoni for example about health for their animals and taking care of them. They also write a simple “Happy Saint Anthony!”.
We started the celebration in Arta.
Together with Piotr’s friends, we dressed traditionally white shirts and bought red traditional vests at the shop at the corner. It is a perfect holiday for people who like to play in the crowd with alcohol. I will add that this holiday is not dangerous. It may surprise, but there was no time when I felt threatened or scared. People gather in a designated place at the appointed time. The plan can be found on the websites of municipal offices. We did not have one. We went to the noise.
It started in a narrow street.
A crowd of people found themselves in one small street. Everyone sang a traditional song, and in their hands they kept alcohol, which is usually drunk on Sant Antoni. It’s rum and liqueur. One of them is called TUNEL and the other is HIERBAS. They have a green color. I also tried a yellowish, sour alcoholic drink. Also rum / liqueur mixed with sour, fresh juice – probably lemon. :) Some even had special “pumps” for alcohol. Hidden with wicker. It was possible thanks to them to spit alcohol into your mouth from a considerable distance. Others had girdled the bottle handbags through the body.
At some point the orchestra and demons are coming.
When You hear the orchestra, it means one thing – everyone drinks, jumps, sings and dances. Demons are coming. Demons are of course none other than people dressed as devils / demons. They chase people, dance with them and this way the whole city is celebrated. When in one place the demons finish dancing, they go to the next – and the crowd runs after them. Over and over again! The party ends and people return home to the mini nap – siesta. Eat, change, rest. We went to the barbecue!
In the evening we went to Manacor.
In smaller towns, this holiday is also celebrated. They still sing the traditional song during the night. Not so often, but still. All piles that were previously prepared are burned. Some restaurants are preparing stacks in front of their premises. They also set up grills, to which pours brushwood from the fire. At Sant Antoni, you must pre-book a restaurant table. The bars are crowded, as are the clubs. People drink, dance and feast until morning. People continue to sing the same song, and the demons continue to prowl around the city. They are sitting in bars and drinking together with others. :) On the market squares they also teach traditional dances. You can easily join the dance!
What happens on January 17th?
From early morning on the main squares of the city stands a priest who saints animals. All! You can come and sacrifice your hamster, if you have a whim. :) They also come with horses. They bring pigs. Unfortunately, I was too tired after the previous day to get up in the morning and stand in the first row to document it all. Sorry! In some parts of Majorca (also in Spain) there is a climbing contest for a very high trunk. The transmission takes place on television.
What is the difference between Sant Antoni and San Sebastian?
San Sebastian is held in the capital – Palma de Mallorca. It takes place on January 20. This holiday is also called the Days of Palma de Mallorca. San Sebastian is a man who became a saint after he refused to let the Roman Emperor Diocletian renounce Christianity. He was beaten then and left to die. After which they decided to torture him until he changed his mind. San Sebastian did not change his mind and died in drastic circumstances. This holiday is dedicated to him and his sacfrice. They are celebrated even for a week. They treat San Sebastian kind of like Sant Antoni. This year, I could not be there. However, I plan to change it in the future!
What did I like about Sant Antoni?
I liked the fact that everyone, regardless of age and status, gather in one place and sing, exchange alcohol and play together. They make a toast together and dance with each other. Everyone with very small exceptions is dressed in white shirts and red scarfs! I liked the fact that it was without violence and it was safe. And what I liked the most was that people were gathering even on the roofs of blocks and houses, just to see demons. I recommend you visit this holiday if you plan your trip to Majorca in January.