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Mallorca and dimonis: a centuries-old tradition


If you’re ever in Mallorca in mid-January, let yourself be swept up in the magic of fire, music and dancing of the nit mágica or nit bruixa (“witching night”) of 16th January, the Eve of Saint Anthony’s Day. A night when passions are unleashed and the feeling of belonging to the island is affirmed, when you can experience one of Mallorca’s oldest popular festivals, which is also one of the closest to the hearts of islanders, first-hand.


But where does this tradition, with such a dark central figure, come from?

On Mallorca, the festival surrounding the relationship between Sant Antoni (Saint Anthony) and the devil goes back to the 18th century, and draws on ancient ceremonies around fertility, crops and the protection of animals. Sant Antoni is the protector of the island’s peasant farmers, and the devil represents the temptations the Saint had to overcome.

Looking even further back in the past, historian Antoni Gili believes that fire wheels, dancing in general and round dances are reminisences of fire rituals officiated by shamans and witchdoctors to celebrate the drawing out of the days, and representing the strength of the sun and the victory of light over darkness.


Which is why bonfires are lit, with the romantic aim of connecting to primeval humans, whose customs were unsullied by civilisation. Fire symbolises the rebirth of the sun that fertilises the earth. In many villages the ceremony of leaping over the fire is still performed, to musical accompaniment.

On this magical night, rooted in antiquity, dimonis (demons) emerge from their “dark hiding place” to throng in the squares of many a village in Mallorca, and perform their dances around the fire. In places like Sa Pobla, Manacor, Capdepera or Artà, this is a very long-standing celebration which has boomed over recent decades. There are currently more than 50 groups of dimonis on the Balearic Islands.


Traditional music is at the heart of all the celebrations – the dances of the dimonis, the ancestral singing to the sound of a rumblepot called the ximbomba (*), coupled with the popular dances that customarily accompany these festivities. One very popular activity is the singing of erotic songs on this witching night and some historians say that many years ago this festival may well have ended in an orgy.


On the 17th of January, the feast of Sant Antoni Abat (Saint Anthony Abbot) - the patron saint of animals - and the day of the Mallorcan peasantry, most of the island’s villages hold ses beneïdes, blessings in which thousands of people take their animals to receive the holy water of Sant Antoni and in some villages, such as Felanitx, Es Carritxó, S’Horta… (not far from our hotels) floats depicting rural Mallorcan themes are prepared. Those taking part wear traditional attire, and there are two essential figures: Sant Antoni and el dimoni, the devil. The participants generally pay tribute to their patron saint by singing, dancing or reciting a few gloses (**) or improvised songs (verses on the theme of the fiesta, which are often satires on current political, social or economic events).



This extremely valuable cultural expression brings us closer to our ancestors, who worked the fields and led an extremely austere, yet noble and beautiful life, in complete communion with nature and the seasons. One could say that we experience this festival as a kind of journey into the past, identifying with the feelings of those men and women of old.


Make your booking at one of our Inturotel hotels on Mallorca. We will be delighted to tell you more about this and other original traditions from our region! ¡Visca Sant Antoni!



(*) “ximbomba”: An ancient musical instrument, a friction drum comprised of an earthenware pot with a round neck and a hole at the base. The top is covered with a skin that is perforated in the centre, through which a cane is passed. When the cane is massaged with a wet hand, the pot acts as a kind of sound box, producing a rumbling roar.


(**) “glosa” On the Balearic Islands, this is a kind of rhyming oral composition, normally improvised at the time of declamation.




Cabrera: a day in paradise
Cabrera: a day in paradise
A mere ten kilometres from Cap de Ses Salines, and very close to our Inturotel hotels on Mallorca, lies the Cabrera archipelago, a genuine unspoilt paradise in the midst of the Mediterranean that has been a Maritime-Terrestrial National Park since 1991, because of the wealth of flora and fauna it contains. How would you like to visit it with us? When you visit Cabrera, keep your camera at the ready at all times, because it is highly likely that you will catch a glimpse of dolphins, turtles, cormorants, ospreys and Iberian wall lizards (podarcis lilfordi, the characteristic lizard of the Balearic Islands).   Fauna: Did you know that the waters of Cabrera are home to the greatest diversity of fish in the entire Mediterranean? In total more than 200 species, as well as molluscs, crustaceans, sea birds, reptiles, mammals... An outstanding feature of Cabrera’s fauna is the large colonies of seabirds: Scopoli’s shearwater (Calonectris diomedea), the European storm-petrel (Hydrobates pelagicus), Audouin’s gull (Larus audouinii)… The seabed around Cabrera is rich in both vertebrates and invertebrates, like colourful nudibranchs. Groupers are typical, as are octopi and Mediterranean morays (Muraena helena)...       But in addition, these waters are a sanctuary for larger animals, such as common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), striped dolphins (Stenella coeruleoalba), short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis), long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melaena), sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) and loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta).       The noble pen shell (Pinna nobilis), one of the largest bivalves in the Mediterranean (up to 2 metres), can live for up to 50 years, and is an endemic species whose main habitat is the Posidonia oceanica meadows. A high rate of mortality has been recorded in noble pen shell populations since 2016, due to a parasitic disease that has brought them to the brink of extinction. Thanks to thousands of calls reporting sightings, we have at least five survivors on the islands. Three of them have been moved to the Cabrera National Park and are protected by cages to prevent the usual predators of Pinna nobilis, like the octopus or the gilthead bream, from eating them. Will they survive? We certainly hope so.   Flora: More than 500 species of vascular plants, 22 species of moss, 21 of lichens and 162 of seaweed co-exist in Cabrera! Some of the more striking species are Balearic Island buckthorn (Rhamnus ludivici-salvatoris) or the Balearic peony (Paeonia cambessedessi).     The island of Cabrera has been uninhabited since it was declared a National Park in 1991, except for the rotating shifts of the staff who manage the park. Previously, it was inhabited by several Mallorcan families who made a living from fishing and farming. Today the island is a sublime destination for engaging in activities in nature’s heart, such as snorkelling, diving (a permit must be obtained in advance), hiking (always on the marked paths), birdwatching… or simply breathing and relaxing in an atmosphere from a bygone age.     Several boat companies in the nearby Colònia de Sant Jordi will take you to Cabrera, on a pleasant sea voyage lasting one hour. A trip to Cabrera implies staying on the island for the whole day, and as well as enjoying the island’s idyllic beaches or discovering its fertile sea bed, there are many more things to do there!   You can visit the highest point of the island, where the 16th-century castle stands, built to protect the island from the Berber pirates who came from North Africa with the aim of putting in at Cabrera and using it as a base from which to attack Mallorca. It has been destroyed and reconstructed on several occasions throughout history. The worst destruction took place in 1550, when the Turks attacked. Don’t miss the chance to view the island’s beaches and scenery from the top of this imposing vantage point!   Cabrera also offers visitors a botanic garden, an ethnographic and historical museum and a small bar in the port (which looks like something out of a novel – a refreshing drink in the shade of its grapevine is an absolute must). As for beaches, there are several to choose from, ranging from the sandy to the very fine stone variety, and even some located at the foot of the spectacular cliffs. But without a shadow of a doubt, the highlight is Sa Cova Blava (the “Blue Cave”), formed by calcareous rock. When the evening sun falls on the water in the cave, it gives rise to a spectacle of light that lends a magical blue tone to the sea. A “zen” experience that you will take away with you as a lifelong memory.     If you aren’t up for the boat trip but still want to find out more about Cabrera and the seabed around it, one great alternative is to visit the Cabrera Interpretation Centre-Aquarium in Sa Colònia de Sant Jordi, which is just 40 minutes away from your Inturotel hotel in Cala d’Or.   When you reach your Inturotel hotel on Mallorca, the reception staff will be delighted to supply you with all the information you need to enjoy your unforgettable trip to Cabrera to the full. Happy adventuring!   Some sites of interest: caib espais protegits        
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