Summer on Menorca – Fiestas de Sant Joan in Menorca

21 June 2019 | 

Summer on MenorcaSummer on Menorca- Fiestas de Sant Joan, Menorca’s most famous festival

Every year on the 24th of June, the most famous and traditional festival of Menorca, Sant Joan, it is on the otherwise so contemplative island of Menorca. Then the former capital Ciutadella, in the west of the Balearic Island, becomes the scene of a crazy, fascinating, almost surreal folk festival for 3 days. 30,000 people celebrate Sant Joan, as in many other Menorcan celebrations – with the horse at the heart of the festival.

On Mallorca’s little sister Menorca Sant Joan is adored which is little known in Spain, and probably not at all in the rest of the world. Which can only be due to lack of advertising and maybe even intention, with the Sant Joan celebrations; Ciutadella can easily take on the very big folk festivals of the kingdom. They are fascinating and crazy. At least many Mallorcans know about the attraction beyond the Channel – that’s how the sea between the islands is called – and feel magically attracted year after year. The ferries, airplanes and hotels are usually booked out before the significant date, who has a boat, continues with a group of friends to the neighboring island. Dolphin Boats offers a week private cruises from Mallorca to Menorca to the fiestas of Sant Joan! A great private yachting experience immersing you in the deepest traditions. And just as you dive at dream temperatures in the Caribbean like Med.

Traditions from the 14th century

The Fiestas de Sant Joan of Ciutadella will take place from 22 to 25 June every year. These are the island’s most traditional and emblematic fiestas, dating back to the early fourteenth century. Initially, the workers pilgrimage on their horses to a small rural chapel (now Sant Joan de Missa) to honor their patron saint, a tradition that continues to this day. You can see the traditional attire of the festival visitors everywhere and the horses are beautifully decorated with bows, carnations and embroidery. Allegedly, the festival was created by a brotherhood, which consisted of several layers. Therefore, even today the riders come from several different stalls. Responsible for the preservation of the traditions of the Sant Joan Festival is the Brotherhood Committee Junta de Caixers, which is elected every 2 years.

Es Fabioller – a flute player, a sheep and 30,000 people at Summer on Menorca

As a non-native one should not try to understand all the background, the Fiestas de Sant Joan you just have to live. But you should love horses and not be afraid of crowds. On Saturday, the 23rd of June at 9:00 am the Es Fabioller, a drum and flute player with his instruments, will open the festival. He is accompanied by a man who is wearing only a lambskin and wearing a specially selected lamb through the old town of Ciutadella. The two go from door to door, followed by a crowd, and announce the invitations to the big feast. The people try to touch the lamb, because this is supposed to bring good luck, as the sheep is a symbol of John the Baptist. On June 23 riders gather at 2 pm in the house of the ‘Caixer Senyor’.

 Dancing horses and lots of adrenalin

Most of the ‘Qualcada’, the procession on horseback, is provided by the ‘Cavallers’, farmers of all ages. The Caixers, on the other hand, represent the original social classes: the church, the nobility, the craft and the peasantry. The ‘Fabioler’ leads the train of 200 riders and accompanies them with a simple, unmistakable melody that he plays on his flute and drum, celebrated by the crowd. The so-called ‘caixers’ try to make their horses dance again and again by putting their four-legged friends on the hind legs. The horses are always encouraged and fueled by the clapping and whistling of people celebrating.The goal of the riders is the country chapel of Sant Joan de Missa, just outside Ciutadella, where a mass is held. And while the riders go to church, you can celebrate in the city. People throw hazelnuts and drink plenty of gin and sangria. The protagonists of the Fiesta are the mostly black Menorcan horses and their riders in white and black dress. They invite you for the first time to the dance on June 23rd at 6 pm, to the ‘Caragol des Born’. Tens of thousands are gathered in the square of the cathedral when the riders enter the crowd. For the recurring beat of a folk melody that cannot be erased from the brain for the rest of the visitors life, the ‘Jinetes’ bring their black horses to rearing. At the same moment, brave infantry steps under the horse and tries to lift it up, or at least touch the mirror on the animal’s forehead.

In the evening, the somewhat calmer ‘Caragol de Santa Clara’ will take place. The riders make their rounds through the city and return to houses and bars, including a horse! Now you also understand why some doors in Ciutadella are secured at head height with crossbeams, here horses are undesirable in the house … At the festival of Jon the Baptist on the otherwise so contemplative Menorca every year hell is going on, when on the Plaça de Born and in the side streets of Ciutadella the Jaleo (turmoil) is raging.

Summer on Menorca – Equestrian Festival at the Pla de Sant Joan

The highlight of the second day of Summer on Menorca festivities will be the equestrian games ‘Jocs des Pla’ at 6 pm on the afternoon of June 24, in the plain near the harbor basin. The ‘ensortilla’, also known as ring lancing, is a discipline where the ‘Caixeri’ armed with lances lead each other. Only that here is entrained in a crowd, which shares only at the last moment. Breathtaking. If the rider fishes the ring, the orchestra tunes a song and the crowd dances. The second discipline is called ‘Correr abraçats’, where the riders on the horse try to ride as close to each other as possible to hug each other without falling off the horse.Late at night with a final firework, the festival of Sant Joan ends and brings some rest to Ciutadella. For the Sant Joan fans, the festive season usually lasts four days: two days to celebrate – and two to revive. And then the holiday begins.

21 June 2019 |