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Sant Joan Fiestas

You can feel it, you can hear it, Sant Joan (sint John’s Feast) is here! The long-awaited celebration throughout the year has finally cracked loose! A combination of emotions, smells, impressions ..... too many to mention them all, you have to let you go to the party to enjoy intensively, where the black horses from Menorca are of course the protagonists!

The content of these pages about the festivities of Sant Joan in Ciutadella, are copied(and translated) from the schoolwork of our (then) 9 year old daughter Angela. Because Angela enjoys intense each year the celebration of Sant Joan, she thought to be worthwhile and very interesting to dedicate this work to the fiesta, so other students would know more about the tradition and festivities in Menorca. It is an extended piece, but it gives a lot and especially accurate insights of the fiesta. On behalf of Angela we wish you enjoy reading it! 

With many, many thanks to Angela.

THE FIESTA

Each year, on June 23rd and 24th in Cuitadella a great celebration is being held. On Saint Johns dayit is a kind of Middle Ages in the city. The riders on horseback ride through the crowd and where horses rear-up on their hind legs amongst the crowds. A real celebration for the inhabitants and tourists, there are also medieval jousts organized. This fiesta is very important, there are even statues of the horses in the city. Sant Joan is an old tradition, they ride on horses in the city. This festivity takes place in the city of Ciutadella on the island of Menorca.

The celebrations of Sant Joan has recently become much more than a local festival. It is an international festival which is known to many visitors from all over Spain. All the visitors have a lot of admiration and love for these celebrations, but about the island inhabitants and in particular the "ciutadellencs" or the inhabitants of Ciutadella you can better talk of passion, drive and boundless enthusiasm.

ORIGINS

The festival of Sant Joan is a traditional festival which is being held for a couple of centuries, dates back to the 14th century and people think that this celebration of religious nature.

It is believed that the festivity comes from a kind of brotherhood, with many different people were present, both poor and rich people, farmers, city people and nobility. This people are represented in the "Junta de caixers" (brotherhood committee, or committee of “caixers”).

There is a document from 1456 which states that a fraternity was linked to the church of Sant Joan d'Artruix today Sant Joan de Missa was. This document states that a religious person, a rider belonging to the noble families of the village, two farmers and two citizens of traditional occupation formed the fraternity.

They had to maintain the church, collection and take care of the goods from the church properly. Later, another person was added to carry the flag of the fraternity. Every year on Saint Johns day a pilgrimage to the church of Sant Joan took place and their families and friends were invited.

The present people were invited for a refreshing drink at the aristocratic’s house. The same did the clergyman on their way back to the city and participants on horseback held a kind of parade through the streets of Ciutadella. Each year, the festival became more important where medieval equestrian games were held, so Sant Joan, has grown slowly but surely to a very special celebration.

BROTHERHOOD  COMMITTEE - COMMITTEE OF `CAIXERS`

The Committee of “caixers” is always elected for a period of 2 years. Everyone who takes part directly in the fiesta is dressed in rigorously formal attire, and the most outstanding are those who make up the committee of Caixers. These represent the ancient Ciutadella society and consists of:

  • Caixer senyor (nobility), chairman of the party and belongs to one of the aristocratic families of Ciutadella
  • Caixer capella (clergy), church member or a priest
  • Caixer menestral (artisan) citizen with an artisan and traditional occupation. Is always a married man
  • Caixer pages (farmworkers), these are two and have to be farmers, one from the north of the municipality of Ciutadella the other represented the southern part of the municipality
  • Caixer fadrí, a unmarried rider, one time is a citizen next time, the son of a farmer or a farmer

The “caixer senyor "is the chairman of the festivity. Always an heir, the first son or family head of one of the noble families of Ciutadella. He is chosen by the riders standing committee formed from old “caixer senyors”. The “caixer senyor” appoints the rest of the committee except the clergyman, known as "caixer capella" or "capellana"

The “caixer capella "(church), provides for the religious part of the festival

The “caixer menestral" Has always a traditional profession and must be married, also can be named "caixer casat” (married rider). He guards the flag during the 2 years he is a member of the committee.

The caixer pages "(farmers) should be esteemed farmers, they can farm help or farm servant. The" caixer fadrí "(the single rider) always carries the flag during all for all the components of the festivities. He must not be married.

The "flabioler" (flutman), accompanies the committee of Caixers and is in charge of announcing the orders with the drum and whistle during the festivities, but he doesn’t form part of the committee.

WHO IS ENTITLED TO PARTICIPATE

Sant Joan is a celebration based on a written and strict protocol, which passes on from generation to generation. With this protocol, a type of rules, the festivities are ruled. One of the topics covered by this protocol is who may participate as a rider at the festival.

In addition to the members of the committee of “caixers” the following people are entitled to take part at the festival of Sant Joan:

  1. The farmers, the sons and the servants of the municipality of Ciutadella.
  2. The farmers, the sons and the servants, born in Ciutadella, even if the farm is not located in the municipality of Ciutadella.
  3. The farmers, the sons and the servants of farms outside the town of Ciutadella, provided that the farm is owned by people from Ciutadella.
  4. Farmers from Ciutadella, who are retired.

The sons of farmers can participate as long as they are at school (till the age of 16) Sometimes there are children of 7 or 8 years old that take part. Every year there are between 90 to 120 entries.

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