Saint Anthony and the demons in Mallorca

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The festival of Sant Antoni Abad (Saint Anthony Abbot), which falls on 17 December and which marks the start of the winter solstice, is a major event in most rural villages in Mallorca. The festival starts on 16 December at dusk, when the street bonfires are lit. It´s the Sant Antoni´s Eve,the Patron Saint of domestic animals, and one of the most magical nights in Mallorca when former fertility rituals were held. The ritual remembers all temptations this saint had to overcome in the desert. On this night locals eat sobrassada (Mallorcan sausage meat) cooked on embers in the street, as well as other types of sausage meats and traditional local foods; there is also plenty of wine. The demons wander from bonfire to bonfire, performing their special dance. The festival gets under way with traditional folk songs, which are sung with a special air of Sant Antoni and which remind locals of the saint´s heroic deeds; however, there are also some saucier songs, and it these which are really popular. On 17 December there are processions with floats which represent traditional scenes from Mallorcan rural life; in addition to this, pets are blessed and the demons chase the figure of Sant Antoni, with children playing an essential part in the festival.

The most popular Sant Antoni (Saint Anthony Abbot)celebrations are held in Sa Pobla, Artà, Pollença, Muro and Manacor.

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