Reading of La Colcada at the Festa de l'Estandard in Palma, Source: Joan Gené, on WikiCommons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

One of Europe’s oldest civil holidays takes place on 31 December in Palma de Mallorca

One of Europe’s oldest civil holidays takes place on 31 December in Palma de Mallorca

Probably, you haven’t heard of the Festa de l’Estandard, but it’s time to change that

Like many other cities around the world, the Balearic Islands capital, Palma de Mallorca, is gearing up to celebrate the arrival of the New Year. What’s different here, however, is the curious fact that the last day of the year is also the date when one of Europe’s oldest non-religious celebrations is taking place – the so-called Festa de l’Estandard (The Banner Festival), which dates back all the way to the 13th century.

When we say Festival, don’t imagine stages with rock bands, or even with troubadours, given its medieval origins. The day celebrates a historical event, more specifically, the capturing of the Arab-held city, then called Madina Mayurqa, by the Aragonese king Jaume I. This happened on 31 December 1229, and it marked the Reconquista of the Balearic Islands back into Christian hands.

The celebration

This 31 December, which falls on Saturday, the event has been marked as taking place from 10:00 to 13:30 in Palma, meaning it will actually precede the New Year’s Eve celebrations, as per tradition.

The event begins with a ceremony to place the Royal Banner of the Conquest of Mallorca and the Crest in Plaza de Cort. This will be followed by a mass in the cathedral. At noon the poem “La Colcada” is read in Plaza de Cort. That poem, written in 1863, refers to another name under which the festival is known.

The Festa de L'Estandard is considered one of the oldest festivals in Europe, since it is a celebration that has been rooted since the 13th century, although it is also true that it has undergone some changes over the years. On the eve of this day, a large floral offering is made in front of the statue of King Jaume I in Plaza España.



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