CHRISTMAS IN MALLORCA
© 1999 by Maria Hubert. All rights reserved.
have just returned from a trip to our flat in Palma Mallorca. For those who dont know where this jewel is, it is a small island off the coast of Spain in the Balearic Islands. Mallorca is the main island of the group and a wonderful tourist venue. The old towns, walled cities and beautiful beaches are enough - but the mountains - for me there is nothing to beat the mountains of Mallorca, and the wonderful Almond groves, which fill the island with blossom in February.
I spent some years there in my teenage years, and went back for the first time in 35 years last year. Why oh why did I wait so long!
I quickly bought a lovely apartment in Palma town itself, and a seaside studio for when my children want to visit.
I managed to do some Christmas shopping this last visit. The Christmas lights go up in November and stay up until January 20th. This is so that they can be lit for two major Mallorquin festivals after Christmas, those of the Three Kings and of St Antony and St Sebastian. (You can find out more on my Winter Festivals page). They cascade from balconies, and white stars hang across the streets. They are lit between 6pm & 9pm every night and all night on feast days.
The shops have their Christmas merchandise like everywhere else, but somehow it is not so obtrusively garish. Just like old shops selling their merchandise for Christmas.
The prettiest things are the NEULES these are white paper cut outs which today are mostly made by nuns and sold for charity. Go into the stationers in Sindicato, and they will wrap your purchase in Christmas giftpaper, and present it to you in a carrier bag stating that Via Sindicato wishes you a Merry Christmas - in Mallorquin of course.
Childrens classes begin their rehearsals for the annual Nativity play. The catechism classes are held in the local Parish halls, with groups of teachers making sure the children know what Christmas is all about.
The 'Sybil.la' is chosen, and a new silken gown made for her, as she sings her hauntingly ancient prophesy.
The supermarkets pile their shelves with tempting bars of TURRON, a delicacy deriving from the Moorish occupation of the whole of Spain in the 8th century. Made from almonds originally, it came in two varieties, hard (Alicante) and soft (Jijona). Mallorca has its own varieties too, and the one I most remember from my youth is one made from Hazelnuts, which was made by a little old lady in a cavern of a dark shop, again in the ancient Sindicato - also no longer there, and neither is the Turron. But you can find her recipe on my Christmas in Mallorca page. Now Turron comes as Chocolate, cream filled bars, with pine nuts, marzipan, crystalised fruits and most things you can imagine as delicious and fattening!
Go to the music stores for recordings of traditional Mallorquin carols, as well as the recordings of the famous Sybil.la Prophesy. And while you are there, in Calle San Miguel, call into the Grand Cafe Cappuchio for old style Mallorquin style. A veritable palace turned into a cafe downstairs and restaurant upstairs. It has an art gallery where you can see and purchase the art of many local artists, some quite famous, such as Col Bardolet, who is famous for his minimalist dancers. The movement in his paintings is hard to resist. But at 200,000 pesetas for an original watercolour you have to be very interested to buy!
This street also has several artisan shops along it where you can buy embroideries, and all manner of chinaware brought from all over the island.
If you are there for the festival of Christmas, every church is a wonder. The big Cathedral, the Basilica of St Francis in the old town, and the local parish churches all have their choirs, and often at the main service of the feast day, the 'Oferta' Mallorquin dancers in their traditional costumes do a stately dance up the aisle to the altar, as part of the offertory procession.
And if you want to see the pictures, I hope to have them on this site as soon as possible.
Somewhere to stay? I would love to invite you to try my own apartments. I can recommend them - of course! Click onto the site to find out more. PALMA FLATS
There are several sites on the net, and a very good one which you can link to from this page in fact, which will tell you all about Christmas in Spain. So I thought I would tell you about Christmas in Mallorca. This is still an incomplete page, and I shall be adding to it as time permits. Anyone with information , I would be delighted to hear from you in English, Castillian or Catalan/Mallorquin! Si alguien tiene alguna informacion puedes escribirme en Ingles or en Castillano o Mallorquin
- Some days before Christmas, parents and children built the "pesebre", This is a representation of the manger scene at Bethlehem, and each family will spend quite some time and effort to make theirs special. Since some years ago, many families also dress the Christmas tree, which is not a Mallorcan (nor Spanish) tradition.
- Christmas Eve dinner (Dec. 24th) is not a tradition in Mallorca. Traditionally, only a light dinner was eaten, or none. The maintained tradition, however, consists of going to the "Misa del gallo" (Rooster Mass) at midnight, where priest talks about Christmas and Christmas carols are sung. In this celebration, a young person with a very melodic voice sings a Medieval song called "La sibil.la", which is a song that talks about the end of the world. After that, it is a custom to go back home and eat hot chocolate with the traditional "ensaimadas" (a spiral-shaped pastry).
In former times, a large pot of stew was cooked outside the church, and all the congregation would eat on this after the Mass! This was first symbolically offered to the Christchild, and then everyone would break their long Christmas Vigil fast.
TURRON is a special sweet eaten all over Spain, especially around the Feast of the Three Kings. In Mallorca, as well as the Turron de Almendra (almond) they sold Turron de Cacauete (Peanut) and my favourite, Turron de Avellana, which is roasted hazelnut. Sometimes vendors would go from house to house selling Turron. And it was considered unlucky not to buy some. There are many stories and legends surrounding this most ancient sweetmeat. Some say it was originally an offering to the goddess Baalat in Asia Minor and brought to Spain by the Carthaginians a thousand years before Christ was born. Others say that the custom was a Roman New Year custom, and yet others say it came to Spain with the Arab invasion in the 8th century.
The Sibyl's song is of very ancient origin. Spain was converted to Christianity in the days of the Apostles, and in some parts of Spain there are still to be found Apostle Churches. These are churches which have some original connection with an Apostle of Jesus. Either an apostle went to that place and founded the church, or something similar. Much of the melody has a distinct Moorish sound to it. But of course many of the early chants came from the middle East, and did sound eastern. This does not mean that they are of Moorish origin.
The following description in Spanish, of the tradition of La Sibil.la came from a Mallorquin newspaper. For now it is only available for those who read Castillian Spanish, but eventually, when time permits, I shall translate it.
El día de Navidad es uno de los momentos del año con una mayor acumulación de tradiciones. Unas tradiciones son de origen muy antiguo, otras más modernas. Muchas se viven en casa, en familia (el belén, las comidas, los regalos, etc.)- y algunas, como las iluminación navideña, es visible en la calle. Cada pueblo, cada país, cada comarca, cada región tiene sus formas peculiares de vivir las fiestas. Estas diferentes celebraciones son, en muchas ocasiones, la expresión exterior de su carácter.
En Mallorca, uno de los elementos que caracterizan las fiestas de Navidad, y que es símbolo de nuestra cultura, es la Sibil.la. &#iquest;No habéis visto ni escuchado nunca la sibila? Si queréis verla, debéis ir a una iglesia y asistir a las "Matinas" que se celebran allí la noche del 24 de diciembre, Nochebuena. En un momento determinado del acto litúrgico, entra la Sibil.la y en una solemne procesión se dirige al trono o a algún lugar destacado.
El papel de la Sibil.la suele estar representado por un niño -así es como se hacía antiguamente- o, también, por una chica. Este personaje viste una camisa larga o una túnica que puede ser de diversos colores. También lleva un curioso sombrero, que varía de forma y color según el lugar. En sus manos sostiene firmemente una espada bien levantada.
La entrada de la Sibil.la suele estar acompañada de una música estruendosa tocada con un órgano. Cuando la Sibil.la se sitúa en el trono, el órgano calla, y en mitad de un silencio expectante canta una canción con una letra terrible. Las estrofas que la Sibil.la va desgranando se alternan con pequeños momentos de música de órgano. La letra de este canto es muy antigua, tanto que quizá tenga su origen en el final de la Edad Media, por este motivo suena a veces un poco rara y contiene palabras que no conocemos.
Este texto explica el fin del mundo y el Juicio Final. Comienza así: "El jorn del judici / parrà el que no haurà fet servici / Jesucrist, Rei Universal, homo i ver Déu eternal, / del cel vindrà per a jutjar / i a cada un lo just darà".
Continúa con unos versos que hablan de acontecimientos tan horrorosos como el oscurecimiento del sol y de la luna, o fuegos que lo desolarán todo, hasta el punto de hacer que las aguas de los ríos y mares hiervan.
Y os preguntaréis &#iquest;#quién es este personaje estravagante que anuncia tantos malos augurios? Las sibilas fueron mujeres que, en tiempos tan remotos como el de los griegos y los romanos, se dedicaban, quizá porque poseían unas dotes especiales, a adivinar el futuro y ayudar a tomar decisiones complicadas.
La Sibil.la de las "matinas" representa la sibila Eritrea la cual, según afirman algunos escritores cristianos antiguos, anunció la llegada del Mesías y la plenitud y el fin de los tiempos. Por esta razón, hace mucho años, en la Catedral de Mallorca, junto con la Sibila, salían otros personajes, los profetas, porque también habían anunciado cosas parecidas.
Uno de los elementos que llama la atención del canto de la Sibila es su música. Podemos decir que incluso esta música resulta exótica. Suena como muy antigua. Sobre esta música se han dicho muchas cosas, y no siempre demasiado acertadas. Suena a antigua porque realmente fue creada hace unos cuantos siglos. Es una música hecha según el pensamiento llamado "canto llano", es decir, que suena con una sola línea melódica, sin acompañamientos.
Si nos fijamos, veremos que una de las características de esta canción es la existencia de un buen puñado de altos y bajos que en muchos momentos hace la voz, giros que los técnicos llaman "melismos". Estos melismos, antiguamente, el cantante los improvisaba, pero actualmente los canta aprendidos de una partitura.
Esto explica porqué hay distintas maneras de Canto de la Sibila: cada versión se basa en unas transcripciones personales de diversos recopiladores y músicos que, a pesar de escribir todos ellos la misma canción, anotaron los melismos según su oído personal, o según la manera en que se cantaba.
Aunque actualmente el Canto de la Sibil.la es una algo propio de Mallorca, años atrás existía en otros lugares. Puede decirse que era una cosa normal en muchas ciudades y pueblos de la Corona de Aragón. De este modo, se había cantado en Barcelona, Girona, Perpiñán, Vic, La Seu d'Urgell, Tarragona, Valencia y la ciudad del Alguer, en la isla de Cerdeña.
Una tradición muy agradable para los niños pero por desgracia perdida en la actualidad, era la manera de finalizar el canto. Una vez acabada la última estrofa, la sibila levantaba la espada y, de un golpe certero, cortaba una cuerda de la que colgaban las típicas "neulas" dulces, algún trozo de torta o incluso otras golosinas.
Naturalmente, todo esto caía sobre la gente provocando la consiguiente algarabía, sobretodo de los niños, que no esperaban a que la misa terminara para poder comérselas. El Canto de la Sibil.la, sin embargo, no es ni un espectáculo ni una fiesta, es sobretodo un elemento de nuestra cultura y de nuestra historia, un tesoro que debemos esforzarnos en conservar.
Una melodía de un regusto mozárabe.
Según Josep Massot i Planes escribió en su "Cancionero Musical de Mallorca", el canto de la Sibil.la es un ejemplo notabilísimo en todos los aspectos, como se puede apreciar por poca atención que se ponga al escucharla. Respecto a su origen, que todavía no podemos precisar, consta que durante el pontificado del obispo Amedo (siglo XVI) ya se cantaba, puesto que abolió su uso que luego fue restaurado. La melodía es de puro regusto mozárabe. La letra está tomada de un libro de poesías del renegado fra Anselm Turmeda, mallorquín del siglo XIV. En realidad, se trata de la adaptación de un texto provenzal anterior, procedente a su vez de un texto latino, antes utilizado en toda Europa.
WORDS TO THE PROPHESY VERSE
parrà el que no haurà fet servici
Jesucrist, Rei Universal,
homo i ver Déu eternal,
del cel vindrà per a jutjar
i a cada un lo just darà
Gran foc del Cel davallarà;
mar, fonts i rius, tot cremarà;
los peixos daran grans crits,
perdent sos naturals delits.
El sol perdrà sa claredat
mostrant-se fosc i obscurat;
la lluna no darà claror,
i tot lo món serà tristor.
Als bons dirà: -Fills meus, veniu,
el reine que us tenc aparellat
desde de que el món va ser creat.
I als mals dirà, molt agrame
Anau, maleïts, en el turment!
Anau, anau al foc etern
de lo pregon de lo infern.
Humil Verge, que haveu parit
Jesús infant, en esta nit,
vullau a vostro Fill pregar
que de l'Infern vos vulla alliberar.
El jorn del judici parrà
el qui haurà fet servici.
TRANSLATION INTO CASTILLIAN SPANISH
El día del juicio
To hear the traditional sibils song, try this Real Audio link. While you are visiting, Mallorcaweb.com is a wonderful site for finding out all about Christmas in Mallorca, as well as many other interesting pieces of information. From the front page you can click onto the ESPECIAL NADAL, to find lots of references to customs, carols, events and recipes. The site is available in English, Spanish, Catalan and German, and from there you can explore other sites of the Balearic Islands too. Perfect if you are planning a holiday in Mallorca!
There are several recordings of the music for la sibil.la which are available worldwide. Here are details of two:
Ara que es nadal. (OD CD 29) This recording has an excellent performance of La Sibil.la, and also many traditional Christmas songs sung in Mallorquin by childrens choirs.
Sung and performed by the Coral Universitat de les Illes Baleares
And the Corals Infantils I Juvenils de Joventuts Musicals
ONA Digital, Son Serra s/n 07110 Bunyola. Mallorca. Baleares Spain. Fax/Tel (971)613801
El Cant de la Sibila (AV 9806) This is a more classical rendition of two arrangements dating from the 15th-16th centuries, from Mallorca and Valencia.
Sung and [performed by Monserrat Figueras
ALIA VOX 1999 E-Mail email@example.com
For readers of Castillian Spanish, there is a book all about the Sibil.la.
El Canto de la Sibila. 2 volumes. Ma. C Gomez. Madrid 1996-7.
THE LEGEND BEHIND
THE HISTORY OF LA SIBIL.LA
The Sibils were women prophets who were used by the ancient Greeks and Romans to foretell great happenings. The Sibil of our legend comes from the story about the Sibil of the Emperor Augustus. It is part of the legend which explains the origins of the Ara Coeli Church in Rome, which was built as a temple to the unknown God during Jesus' lifetime.
THE LEGEND OF ARA COELI
Nobody came much now to the old prophetess who lived on the slopes of Capitol Hill above the city of Rome. She had been there for as long as anyone could remember. At one time there was an almost constant queue of people waiting to see her, for the honour of asking her to see into the future. They would bring her robes of finest linen, delicious fruits in golden dishes, and the best spiced wines to drink. Bread made from the finest milled grain, and goats and hens.
She was still treated with respect, and there was always something left outside her cave below the Temple of Jupiter. But these days she rarely foretold anything of great import. Until tonight, it was a particularly still night, when not an animal stirs, nor a breath of breeze dares to move the blades of grass. She felt an unease, a sense of anticipation. Her whole being was drawn toward the distant East. Whatever it was, she knew that this was what she had been waiting for all her long life, and her old bones thrilled with the excited anticipation.
The old woman climbed painfully to the very summit of the hill, and sat down, gazing out across the city and the far hills, so absorbed was she that she did not see the small retinue climbing the hill behind her.
She was walking amongst a great flock of sheep. All slept, the shepherds lay by the fire. Suddenly there came a beautiful sound, and the shepherds sat up and saw a light in the sky, gasping with amazement as it grew bigger, and shadowy figures winged their way across the wide plains. The Sibyl shared their vision, and followed them as they made their way to the village to tell of the strange sight.
But before they arrived at the gates, they saw the angels, for that is what they were, had stopped hovering over a low shepherds cave outside the walls of the city. There the angels stayed, and there the shepherds and the sibyl saw a star so bright that it illuminated the whole scene as if it were daylight. And shepherds and sibyl knelt at the wonder of it all.
Thus did the small group find the old woman when they ascended the hill. They were non other than the Emperor Augustus and his followers. Many felt that Augustus was so great an Emperor that a temple should be erected to his greatness next to the temple of the gods, and they were coming to pray, and make sacrifice for this purpose.
Augustus, who was a wise and good man, was not happy with this. He was afraid that he would offend the gods by reaching so high. He had suggested this visit to the temple to offer his sacrifice and see if the gods would accept it, which would mean they accepted his greatness. So when he saw the old sibyl, whom he remembered as being a great prophetess from his youth, and whom he still held in great awe, sitting, as though in a trance, he was afraid.
"Why should she come out tonight of all nights?" he voiced his fears to his closest confidant.
They were all afraid of the awe-inspiring old woman, but they stayed by their Emperor. What did she foretell for the Emperor? Was she there to encourage their plan, or to warn against it? It was so silent and still, such was a night for fear. But no one wanted to admit their fears, and they tried to play down the event.
"Surely, great Augustus, she is here as a good omen to show you the gods are in favour of one so great sharing their hill," they said. It was as if the night was waiting with bated breath to honour a new god.
Thus encouraged, Augustus began his preparations for the sacrifice, but the dove escaped him, and flew away. This was not a good sign, but encouraged by his men he began again.
"The night is cold, Lord Caesar," they excused him, rubbing his hands which were like ice. "Your hands are numb. We have one more dove, anoint thyself again".
So Augustus did so, cleansing the altar, and himself, much in the way the celebrant does today. And again the dove slipped from his grip, which was suddenly no better than that of a small child. He was very afraid. The gods had not accepted the sacrifice, allowing the birds to fly, this was a bad idea. Calling his men to do likewise, he fell to his knees and prayed for help and forgiveness. They felt a fresh wind blowing through the grass, putting an end to the unearthly stillness, and the sky seemed light as day.
His men took this as a good sign, and immediately hailed him as their new god. "Hail Caesar, Hail the new god of Capitol Hill, Hail Jupiter's equal!"
Their cries brought the old sibyl from her trance, and looking around she saw the same light in the sky. Turning she saw the men on their knees giving praise to their Emperor. Her eyes wide with the vision she had just seen, she advanced on the party, laughing horribly and screeching,
"Look, great Caesar, before you take the praise for yourself, look and see, the new god of Capitol Hill, the God of the whole world, Look to the Orient and you shall see!"
And she pointed to the distant hills in the East, beyond the great river Tiber. There the heavens parted and Caesar Augustus saw her vision, a poor and stable with a broken straw roof, and in it sat a lowly mother and her baby, and all the angels sang. Then the Sibyl's voice rang out as in the days of old when her prophesies were many and frightful. Her voice rang in the ears of the men kneeling there, and seemed to resound over the whole city and beyond.
"I walked amongst great flocks of sheep, and the Jackals lay by the fire with the shepherds and their dogs, and all were at peace. I heard great angel voices telling of the coming of a new great God. I followed with the shepherds to the place where the God-King lay."
Her voice rose and resonated across the seven hills of Rome with a power no old woman could possess alone, "And I read in the stars now, I tell you, upon Capitol Hill the Redeemer of the World shall be worshipped!"
Then as the sky darkened, she disappeared into her cave, never to be seen alive again.
Augustus was so impressed by what they had witnessed that night that he decreed that a temple should indeed be built on Capitol Hill, but not to him, nor to Jupiter, but the new God -King revealed by the sibyl. He called the new place the Temple of Heaven, Ara Coeli. And today there still exists the Church of Ara Coeli on Capitol Hill, and in memory of the Sibyl's vision, there is a beautiful and ancient statue of the Baby Jesus.
THE SIBIL'S PROPHESY (English version)
"On the day of Judgement
Shall die all those who did not do service to the Eternal God.
Who shall come from heaven to judge and give to each his own justice.
A great flame shall come from the heavens,
The sea, the rivers and fountains, all shall burn.
The fish shall lose their natural habitat
The sun shall lose its light, making everything dark
the moon shall not illumine
And all the world shall be sad.
To the good, He shall say
"Come, my children, welcome
You shall possess the Kingdom which I have assigned you
Since the World was created."
And to the bad, He shall be angry
"Go, bad ones, to the torment!
Go to the eternal flames of the depths of Hell."
Humble virgin, who has given birth to a Son this night
Pray to your Son
That we may be liberated from Hell.
The day of Judgement
Shall purge all who have not done His Word.
© Maria von Staufer 1995 _
The following account of a typical family Christmas in Mallorca comes from Jaume Boada . You can visit his Collectors site after reading this……. But don't forget to come back!
- In Christmas Day (Dec. 25th) the lunch with the family consists of a soup with a kind of pasta noodles stuffed with minced meat and meatballs; the second course is roasted pork or/and beef with potatoes. After that, of course, the traditional Christmas sweets: "turron", "polvorones", "sugar fruits", etc. The tradition of giving away gifts left by "Santa Claus" (called "Papa Noel" here) is every year more extended in the Spanish homes.
- Here in the Balearic Islands, together with other Spanish regions, the 26th is also holidays. The remains of the previous day lunch is eaten, or a new one prepared, probably not so heavy.
- On New Years Eve, most people have dinner with the family again. The arrival of the New Year is followed on the TV which broadcasts the 12 bell strikes from a bell tower somewhere; the most traditional one is the bell tower in the Plaza del Sol in Madrid, although nowadays regional or local TV's contact other places within the region. Radio stations also contact with a popular bell tower. The curiosity is how people receives the New Year. Everybody prepares 12 grapes and start eating them following the bell strikes, one for each strike (it is needless to say that most people cannot swallow them so quickly); after that, a desired is wished and it is followed by a toast with Spanish "cava" (a kind of "Champagne" usually made in Catalunya). From that moment, a crowd of people, mostly young, leave home and go to parties or discoteques to spend the rest of the night. The way of celebrating New Year's Eve is almost the same throughout Spain.
- The first of January there is another lunch; there is not a traditional lunch for that day, but most people like eating fish (salmon, for instance) or meat.
- On January 5th in the evening, many parents carry their children to see the parade of the Three Magical Kings (Reyes Magos, whose names are Gaspar, Melchor and Baltasar) who get to Mallorca by ship, disembark in Palma harbour and drive their ornamented chariots through the city centre, throwing sweets to the children from the chariots. At night, children must go to sleep early because the Three Magical Kings will step into their home and leave gifts if they have been good during the year (some days before, children had previously written a letter with a list of the gifts they would like to receive). This custom is more traditional than "Santa Claus", but in the last years many parents (and children) prefer the latter option because only one or two days after the Kings' Day (January 6th., also holidays) most children go back to school for the first time in two weeks, so they don't have much time to enjoy their new gifts.
Please, This is THE site for everyone who collects ANYTHING. Visit our web page!!!!!
------------------------------------------ The following extracts are from my book, CHRISTMAS AROUND THE WORLD, Maria Hubert von Staufer. Suttons 1998.
TURRON de AVELLANA
Turrón is a nutty sweetmeat eaten in Spain and especially associated with Christmastime.It is usually made with Almonds or even peanuts, but in Mallorca they have a local speciality made with roasted hazelnuts, which is rich and delicious. The little shop in El Sindicato, an ancient street in the centre of Palma town, where I used to buy my Turron thirty-five years ago, had its own special recipe, which is reproduced here.
- 10 oz hazlenuts which have been roasted until the skins rub off and the nuts are a pale golden colour.
- 2oz almonds, also roasted and skinned
- 3 large egg whites
- 6oz set honey
- 6oz fine sugar (Castor sugar)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Rice Paper.
Line a swiss roll tin with rice paper.
Grind all nuts in a grinder or food processor until fine.
In a dry bowl, whisk egg whites until stiff, as for meringue. Fold the nuts into this. Cover and leave in a cool place while you melt the honey and sugar together in a heavy bottomed pan. Bring to point of boil, but do not allow to continue boiling. Add the nut mixture, and continue to cook over a LOW heat for about 10-12 munites. Stir all the time so the mixture does not become sticky or crystaline.
Turn out onto the rice paper, spread neatly and cover with another layer of rice paper or you can use baking parchment, which will not stick to the sweet. Leave overnight to go cold and set. Remove the top paper, sprinkle with cinnamon, if liked. Cut into squares and serve with coffee. Or you can wrap the bars in cellophane and give as gifts.
(Note this recipe is copyright and may not be used commercially with written permission. It is difficult to make, and may take some practice. I cannot be responsible for anyones lack of ability to perfect this recipe)
DANCINGS TO THE GOIGS IN CATALONIA
Singing and dancing form an important part of Spanish Christmas. The Sevillians have the Dance of Sixes, which is an intricate dance performed as part of the start of Christmas celebrations outside Seville Cathedral. Another cathedral to bear witness to the religious dances is the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Every Sunday, in fact, the Catalans dance the Sardanas. It is said only a true Catalan can dance without counting the intricate steps - you can hear the muttering of those not familiar with the Sardanas, as they count!
At Christmas, they dance to the Goigs. These are Songs of Joy. Long songs which de4scribe bible stories, and the Christmas Story in particular, in a simple way which dewscribes the land of Catalonia as much as the Nativity story. One Goig tells of the lovely things which come out of Catalonia - the grape, the raisin, the fig, the almond and the olive, flowers, cheeses, honey…
|Què li darem a n'el Noi de la Mare?||What shall we give to the Boy of the Mother?|
|Què li darem que li sàpiga bo?||What can we give that He would like?|
|Li darem panses amb unes balances||We'll give Him raisins with a pair of scales|
|Li daren figues amb un paneró||We'll give Him figs with a big basket|
|Què li darem al Fillet de Maria?||What can we give to the little Son of Mary?|
|Què li darem al formòs Infantó?||What can we give to the beautiful Infant?|
|Panses i figues i nous iI olivas||Raisins and figs and nuts and olives|
|Panses i figues i mel iI mató||Raisins and figs, and honey and sweet cheese.|
One of the most famous Christmas Goigs is the ;Carol of the Birds' which has become a popular carol in many countries.This Gopig dates from the 17th century, and originally contained fourteen verses describing the visit of thrity two different types of bird to the Christchild in the Stable at Bethlehem. The Eagle, the sparrow, the finch, thrush, robin and lark all sing their lovely best. Even the harsh voices of the magpie, jay, raven and the cuckoo, and the fat little partridge are not left out.
When I was in Spain I had the great pleasure of hearing the superb Catalan cellist, Pablo Casals play. Whether it was Christmas or not, his signature tune was this carol. The cadence and fall of the notes really do bring to mind a picture of birds fluttering and flying around the stable. Casals said, "I began the custom of concluding my concerts with the melody of the old Catalan Carol, 'The song of the Birds'. It tells a tale, with its reverence for life and man, the noblest expression of live! In the Catalan Carol, it is the eagle and the sparrows, the nightingales and the little wrens who sing a welcome to the Infant, singing of him as a flower that will delight the earth with its sweet scent."
|EL CANT DELS OCELLS||THE SONG OF THE BIRDS|
|Al veure despuntar||When they see breaking|
|El major lluminar||The great light|
|En la nit més joiosa||On that most joyous night|
|Els ocellets cantant||The little birds, singing|
|A festejar lo van||Go to serenade it|
|Amb sa veu melindrosa||With their melodious voices|
|L'Ocell, rei de l'espai||The Eagle, king of the sky,|
|Va pels aires volant||Flies through the air|
|Cantant amb melodia||Sings with melody|
|Dient, 'Jesús és nat||Saying, 'Jesus is born|
|Per treure'ns del pecat||to release us from sin|
|I dar nos alegria||and give us happiness'.|
A less literal but longer translation of seven verses of this lovely Goig can be found in the book, Christmas around the World, Maria Hubert von Staufer. Pub Suttons. And available from Amazon.com
THE CHRISTMAS CRIBS IN CATALUNYA
This is in preparation. You can read more about the Christmas Crib in general, and the work of the Society of Nativitists by linking to my Cribs page.
And you can get to the excellent site of the Federació Catalana and which will provide links on to many other Catalan and Spanish sites, by linking to the following site of Enric Benavent I Vallès which has an educational site dedicated to the Crib http://www.xtec.es/~ebenaven/
Holidays in Mallorca