These popular celebrations feature horses that prance and dance to the beat of typical music during the jaleo. The fiestas of Sant Martí in Es Mercadal, which are celebrated during the third weekend in July, have a medieval origin and feature horses with braided manes and riders decked out in full dress with an array of diverse ornaments and multi-coloured flags.
In ancient times, religious brotherhoods organised these celebrations and their members, who represented the different classes in medieval society, were the riders (caixers) from the so-called qualcada (cavalcade).
The celebration begins when the flabioler, a young man mounted on an ass who leads the way for the retinue, receives permission from the mayor to begin the celebration and plays the first notes of drum and flabiol on the balcony of the city hall to break the silence before the expectant crowd.
The flabioler goes to collect the Caixer Sobreposat, who will carry the flag of Sant Martí and lead the cavalcade, at his home. Both will collect the rest of Caixers in this order: the Caixer Pagès, a farmer from the district who represents the peasantry; the Caixer Casat, who represents craftsmen and is the spokesman of the caixers; the Capellada, who represents the Church, and finally, the Caixer Batlle who represents the Town Hall, presides over the cavalcade and organises the celebrations.
When they all reach the plaza together, the horses prance and dance to the beat of the typical music and the jaleo while the crowds applauds and tries them to touch them. The celebration concludes with the religious ceremony of the Solemn Completes in the Church of Sant Martí.
More information: www.ajciutadella.org
Category: Balearic Islands festivals