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Arta's San Antonio Fiesta

Post Office seal of approval

All over Spain, towns and villages are gearing up for the fiesta of San Antonio on the 17th January. In most of them it's a fairly low key affair which revolves around the church where, in honour of the patron saint of animals, a blessing of livestock and pets takes place.

In itself it's extremely interesting with horses, sheep, goats, and other farm animals being led past in company with the more traditional domestic animals like dogs, rabbits, turtles, cats (usually in carrying cases) and the more exotic additions to our households like lizards and snakes all in the queue to receive a splash of holy water from a high ranking church official.

Over in Arta in the north east of Mallorca the two days of the fiesta, starting today 16th and tomorrow 17th January, are a much more riotous celebration with much carousing, drinking sweet sticky liqueurs, singing rather risque songs and quite a lot of dancing with demons.

Add lots of bonfires, fireworks, processions and music as well as a day off for everyone and the fiesta takes on a greater significance than elsewhere! As you can see from the photos (courtesy Facebook) everyone dresses like they're off to a scout jamboree, with white shirts and red neckerchiefs, though they certainly won't be singing Kumbaya or Riding along on the crest of a wave round the campfires as most songs in the fiesta have an erotic or scatological theme.

Because the fiesta is so important in the life of the island, the Spanish post office, Correos, has honoured it by producing a limited edition of 200,000 stamps of the event which can be used on a first day envelope as either a great souvenir or perhaps a valuable investment for the future in philatelic circles,

Fancy going to have a look? There are celebrations throughout both days, with the blessing of the animals – what it's all about – at 11:00 on the 17th.