Christmas is most truly Christmas when we celebrate it by giving the light of love to those who need it most. - Ruth Carter Stapleton
The Christmas spirit has arrived in Palma, illuminating every street from the grand Paseo Born to the ancient plazas and pop-up shop strewn La Rambla with local producers offering all kinds of Winter treats to keep everyone warm as families and friends come together to experience the magic of the lights.
Upon First Sight #
It is utterly impossible to remain untouched by the grandeur and sheer detail that goes into quite possibly one of the most incredible displays of Christmas lights in the world. And, this year’s ornaments are testament to the spirit of the people of Mallorca, especially after such a difficult year.
What is Different in 2020 #
Due to health measures, Palma City Council has had to spread out the main attractions. The shows to be held at Dalt Murada and the parks of Sa Riera and Ses Estacions will have a limited capacity of 1000 attendants. However, restrictions really do breed creativity and the council has truly outdone itself with the main attractions this year. They have spent €1.44 million on lighting and attractions through 225 streets, in 65 neighbourhoods and 33 brand new decorations.
One of the main novelties this year is the enormous 27-metre Christmas tree, located in the Parc de la Mar. The tree also has a 3-metre-long passageway through which you can walk. The tree is an impressive sight and a fantastic photo opportunity as it can be seen with Palma cathedral in the background.
This year, the Associacion Jovent (youth association) turned the lights on to great applause, imbuing the people of the city with hope and joy for the coming year. Unfortunately, due to the more stringent restrictions for the lockdown, this will be the first year that children will not be allowed to participate on the floats of the parades.
Christmas Markets and Shop Hours #
Shops will stay open 7 days a week and most until 20.00hrs. Christmas markets will be held in Plaza Major until the 6th of January. Plaza España and La Rambla will be open underneath the twinkling Christmas lights and will be home to stalls selling an array of local produce and Christmas goodies. This is a fine time to get a good look at the creative artisanry of Mallorca. Although the Council has taken every measure to ensure everybody can have fun in a safe environment, please wear a mask at all times as this is required by law.
If you are inspired by the Christmas spirit and want more, head to Puerto Portals Christmas Market or check out the Pueblo Español Christmas Fair. The festive season in Mallorca is long and lasts until the arrival of the Three Kings on Eve of the 6th of January. Let's support our neighbors and friends and buy local.
- Puerto Portals Christmas Market from 16 Nov 2020-06 January 2021
- Plaza Major 26 Nov 2020-06 January 2021
- Christmas Market Pop-ups - Best Place to find them are on local Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram posts
Traditions of the Holiday #
Mallorquins continue to enjoy this holiday season, maintaining the traditional plays, stories and food. Since you are online, we recommend liking a few of the government Facebook pages so you receive notifications of the latest happenings on the island. A few special events that happen every year, even this unusual #COVID19 year, is the Didactic Project of the Sibil-la, an ancient prediction in the form of song and reenactment of the prophesies of the coming Son of God. Take a look at their website and learn more about this annual tradition for children and families. For more, check out the Consell de Mallorca website at Didactic Project of the Sibil-la and also like the Consell de Mallorca Facebook Page.
Traditions Continue...in Moderation #
Families will honor the long-held tradition of Christmas presents given away on the Day of the Three Kings. The lucky ones will enjoy traditional foods – Shrimp on Christmas Eve after Mass followed by hot chocolate, ensaimadas and coca de patata. Mallorquins know the best shrimp are found in Port Andratx and Banyalbufar as they are "sweeter and larger," according to a 92+ year old Mallorquin who grew up in Plaça Cort. She said her family would make the long trip to Port Andratx and pray they arrived before the shrimp were all sold. These days, the drive is much easier so get in your car and arrive early to the fish market if you want a special treat.
Every village has a local church. This year, the Balearic Government has stated they will honor Spain’s Ministry of Health’s draft plan to limit gatherings to no more than ten people inside. Plans are in constant flux so best to check with your local parish. For most, this means that the mass will be carried online with most attending virtually.
Caution prevails, "We are working on a specific planning for a Christmas that will be different, but safe. This year we will have to stay at a distance from our loved ones instead of hugging them," Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez stated. A draft of the government’s Christmas plan limits Christmas and New Year celebrations to the immediate household, or up to a maximum of six people if inviting others.
As of early December, travel between regions in the country and the villages around Mallorca will be allowed and open-air markets can go ahead. The nighttime curfew, currently starting at 11 p.m., could be extended to 1 a.m. on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve. traditional Christmas Mass will be permitted, but without singing. These measures are still to be agreed between the government and the regions.
Mallorca has been hard hit economically with many small shops shuttered. While we need El Corte Ingles and other large stores to remain open, those shops qualified for ERTE, the financial assistance program by the government. Most small business did not qualify and need our support to remain in business as we navigate this difficult time.
I strongly urge you to consider buying locally. The locally-prepared foods, hierbas and small gifts are affordable. Take a look through the Affordable Mallorca Local Directory for that special present. And for more ideas, a painting by a local is the perfect keepsake.
- Local painters such as Daniel Codorniu Art Studio for inspired paintings of the island’s most beautiful scenes. You can watch several videos of Daniel’s work and contact him either through Facebook or LinkedIn at Daniel Codorniu Paintings of Mallorca
- For healing scenes, check out Lizzy Forester’s healing art inspired by the Balearics. Lizzy’s work is affordable and perfect for wall art, clothing such as scarves and stocking stuffers such as thermal cups with her beautiful scenes. Here is a link to her online shop: Lizzy Forester's Paintings and More
- For abstract work, we recommend Sara S’Jegers. To see Sara’s work, watch her video and for a link to her online shop. Here is a link to an article on Sara >> Sara S'Jegers - Nomadic Artist
If This Season is Hard Emotionally #
That old cliché that 'it's better to give than receive' is true now more than ever. If you are short on cash and out of work or have extra time, what better way to enjoy this time than to give your time to those in need. So many people and animals are in need of food, shelter and care from others. Most grocery stores now have food collection spots. Donate food and water, toiletries, diapers and dog or cat food. If you are able, contact the organization to see if they need help distributing those items to the needy. Here are a few groups doing good work:
- 6Points Cycling Challenges Food Collection Points
- Baldea.org - Serving animals in need
- Directory of Charities on Mallorca
No matter what tradition your celebrate, you will find someone on the island to share it with you. The point is to enjoy the holiday - even during the COVID social distancing restrictions. The Council has done a tremendous job in locating the decorations further apart so that everyone can attend public gatherings safely. We wish you a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
- Personal Experiences
By Zakk Arion
5 December, 2020