San Antonio and Sebastian
A couple of festivals to honour two saints will bring out the demons in Mallorca this week. The first of the pair is San Antonio, the patron saint of animals, whose day falls on the 17th January and is celebrated in almost every town and village of Mallorca.
The most obvious connection in the celebrations to Antonio himself is the blessing of the animals which takes place on the day itself when the local priest sprinkles holy water on a veritable parade of living creatures which walk, trot, slither and fly past him guided by their owners.
In days of yore when Mallorca was an agricultural economy the priests' main job was blessing sheep, goats and cattle whose very existence was vital to the population. These days the world and his wife turn up with their pets, traditional and exotic; dogs, cats, mice, parrots, lizards, snakes and duck-billed platypuses, to name just a few.
The night before the big day is the most fun as the fire breathing, smoke belching, spark throwing demons come out to play. They're re-enacting the Temptations of St Anthony when during a stint as a hermit in the desert, he was tormented by a caveful of demons whom he eventually defeated with help from on high.
Though details of this torment are sketchy, it's unlikely that they featured lighting loads of BBQs, grilling tons of sausages and sobrassada, and necking back goblets of vino tinto as they do now! The food and drink certainly goes a long way to making the presence of the horny, sorry horned, demons with their incessant drums, sparky pitchforks and swishing tails a lot more palatable when they come knocking on your door.
The biggest and best San Antonio fiestas are in Manacor, Sant Llorenç des Cardassar, Sa Pobla, Muro, Pollença, Son Servera, Artà, and Capdepera, if you fancy a look.
Meanwhile in Palma, the demons come out to entertain us in the big San Sebastian fiesta. The patron saint of archers as well as Palma, there doesn't seem to be any connection between him and the demons but it's a good enough excuse.
Nine groups of demons – including a dragon – take part in the correfoc (fire run) through the streets of the city. Starting at 19:00, the fire breathers gather at the Paseo de Mallorca and carve a path of fiery chaos down the Jaime III shopping street to the Plaza Rey Juan Carlos at the top of the Borne.
If you're going, keep yourself covered up and don't go too near the fireworks. Have a great time.