One of Mallorca’s most spectacular fiestas ‘La Patrona’ takes place in the delightful north Majorcan town of Pollença at the end of July.
The highlight of this spectacular annual festival which runs from 25th July to 2nd August, is the famous recreation of the battle of the Moors versus the Christians which originally took place in 1550 AD.
Although it is very much party time in Pollensa during the week of La Patrona, don’t be fooled: the locals take it all very seriously indeed as it is an important part of their Mallorcan heritage.
In honour of Pollensa’s patron saint
The fiesta of La Patrona is held in honour of Pollensa’s patron saint, Our Lady of Angels. It’s an amazing event which each year attracts thousands of locals, visitors and holidaymakers to take part in the recreation of Majorcan history and, of course, presents a wonderful opportunity to let their hair down.
The daytime programmes are mostly child-oriented, with a variety of events to keep the little ones entertained, such as music, dancing, a procession of giant puppets and a thrilling ‘foam party’ to end the day.
At night, Pollensa really comes to life. Live music is everywhere and, as you can imagine, considerable amounts of ‘refreshments’ are imbibed!
The battle begins!
However, the climax of La Patrona is the mock battle of the Moors versus the Christians which takes place on the final day of the fiesta.
Earlier in the year, candidates announce they are standing for election to play the main protagonists in the battle, displaying large campaigning photographs of themselves through the town, just as in a normal political contest.
Elections take place causing a bit of a media frenzy (proper ballot boxes are used) and the winners are announced amidst great ceremony.
The highlight of the fiesta is when local men and women dress up in medieval garb in order to re-enact the routing of the infamous Turkish pirate, Dragut.
Joan Mas: local hero
Back in 1550, the Moorish pirates arrived stealthily at night while the small town was asleep, hoping to surprise the Christian populace of Pollensa. Fortunately, local hero, Joan Mas, awakened the sleepy inhabitants with his rising cry of “Mare de Deu dels Angels, assistiu-mos!” (Our Lady of Angels, help us!)
To this day, the final day of the festival is known as the Mare dels Angels which takes place on the 2nd August.
Things begin early – 5am to be precise. L’Alborada, the rousing anthem of Pollensa, is played followed by a solemn mass in the church. Traditional Majorcan dancing then announces a lively day of street theatre, climaxing in the ‘battle’.
The Christians dress up in white to signify the nightshirts and dresses worn by the slumbering population in 1550, and the pirates dress up in a colourful mixture of piratical costumes accompanied by liberal applications of face paint.
This battle is not for the faint hearted either; the good people of Pollensa take it very seriously indeed.
At 7pm, the character elected to play Joan Mas shouts out the famous line “The pirates are here. Our Lady of the Angels, help us!”
What follows could aptly be described as organised chaos. The two sides chase each other through the narrow streets of Pollensa, threatening blue murder wielding swords and sticks. (Visitors are advised to stay at a safe distance here.)
A bit of a stand off follows before victory is proclaimed: Joan Mas and the Christians of Pollensa have defeated the evil Moorish pirates!
Then it’s back to the church to give thanks for the saved souls and the famous victory, with Joan Mas carrying the captured Moorish flag.
The Pollensa anthem Visca Pollensa is lustily sang and the party continues all night long with fireworks, drinking and much carousing.
La Patrona is one Mallorcan fiesta not to be missed!
The fiesta of La Patrona, Pollensa, Majorca 25th July – 2nd August 2014.