Mallorcan Culture: A very short introduction (I)
The Mallorcan culture is rich, wide and full of history. The Mediterranean civilizations that settled and were related to Mallorca, among which we find Romans, Phoenicians, Arabs or Catalans, have influenced deeply the island by providing it with a cultural heritage and its own character. Mallorca Markets and Festivals offer you a short introduction to the vast world of Mallorcan culture.
One of the most characteristic aspects of Mallorca is the language. The Catalan language, spoken since the Christian reconquest in the thirteenth century, is one of the most powerful signs of identity in Mallorcan culture. The “island effect” favored the formation of the “mallorquí” dialect, a bit different evolution of standard Catalan. It has a peculiar accent and some words of their own. With the arrival of mass tourism and the increase of the population during the last century, “mallorquí” has lost some weight in society in favor of Spanish, English and even German. In spite of this, it is a habitual language, studied and much loved by the native inhabitants.
After the Christian reconquest by King Jaume I in 1229 AD, Christianity replaced Islam as the predominant religion in Mallorca, and so it has been until today. As a result of this religious triumph, Mallorca hosts one of the symbols of Gothic architecture in Palma: the Cathedral of Palma, also known as "La Seu". It is also due to the Catholic religion the celebration of the patron saint festivities: Sant Antoni, Sant Sebastià, Sant Joan, Sant Pere ... as well as the fulfillment of very traditional and rooted Christian festivities such as Christmas and Easter. The Catholic religion has also been a source of conflict, especially with jews (called derisively "xuetes"). The religious conflict also underlies the "Moros i Cristians" celebrations, although they are based more on stories of pirate attacks than on causes of faith.
They are known as "Rondalles mallorquines" a set of tales and traditional fantastic stories, transmitted for years orally from parents to children and from grandparents to grandchildren. Kings, princesses, peasants, giants, magicians, witches and fantastic creatures can be found in these stories. Some have moralizing content, many other religious background and others stand out for their fantasy and repetitive rhythm, because they have to be kept in mind to be orally transmitted. The "Rondalles mallorquines" were collected in 24 volumes by Antoni Maria Alcover i Sureda at the end of 19th century and have been so rooted that it is strange to find a Mallorcan family that does not have at least a Rondalles book at home. The Rondalles also have their own fair, which is celebrated in Búger in autumn.
The essence of Mediterranean music permeates traditional compositions. Greek or Arabic aromas are caught between the melodies of the Mallorcan songs. Among them are the "tonades de treball" that were sung while working, or the "romanços", which told stories supposedly real, many of them very dark. Christian religion brought the song of the Sibil·la, declared intangible heritage of humanity by UNESCO. On the other hand, typical Mallorcan musical instruments include "xeremies", "flabiols" and "tamborinos", which have accompanied Majorcan celebrations for centuries. The "guitarró", the "ximbomba" and "castanyetes" are also other very popular musical instruments.
And with the music comes the dance. Traditional Mallorcan dances are known as "ball de bot". These are folk dances, without complicated choreography but opened to public participation. There are several types of folk dances, depending on the rhythm. Thus we find “jotas”, "mateixes", “fandangos” or “boleros”. All towns and neighborhoods celebrate these popular dances, known as "ballades", fairly regularly and there is no popular festival in Mallorca that does not have its own "ballada".