Pancaritat – a charitable tradition

Groups of people cooking paella at a public grilling spot

Paella cooking, pancaritat, Selva. Credit: Annie Christmas

Over the centuries, the original name of the feast, pa amb caritat (‘bread with charity’), has become compressed into pancaritat.

The tradition of the Pancaritat feast dates back to mediaeval times.

In the fourteenth century, young people distributed bread to the poor on a day connected with the agricultural cycle and crop blessings. This original pancaritat was not religious in nature.

Once the Guardian Angel became the protector not only of agriculture but of the city of Palma at the turn of the fifteenth century, church-based traditions grew up around the feast day. The patron saint was changed to San Sebastian in 1652, but the Angel tradition persists to this day.

Stations of the cross

The pancaritat procession follows the same route as the stations of the cross earlier in the week. At certain periods during its history, the feast day was banned because it was deemed to have become too ‘profane’. People were simply having too good a time for the church to approve.

The date originally set was the second Sunday after Easter, but this been changed various times over the centuries and in many towns the feast now takes place on the Monday immediately after Easter, a public holiday.

The atmosphere is relaxed, and townspeople take the chance to greet each other and catch up, and to eat Mallorcan delicacies of meat pies stuffed with lamb (empanades) and sweet pastries (robiols) filled with jam or soft cheese. Or the more ambitious bring their cooking utensils to make an al fresco arros brut or paella.

Selva, in the foothills of the Tramuntana mountains, is one of many places where people take the opportunity to cook at the public picnic spot overlooking the town. In this particular village, there is a competition on Pancaritas day to see who can make the best paella. One local British resident has won it so many times in a row that he decided to take a step back and allow others to take a shot at it.

This year, the young people of the town took the chance to make up for the bad weather of Easter Saturday, which had rained on their parade: nobody came to their planned celebration with a DJ in the square down the hill. The youngsters who will be leaving school at the end of the academic year usually set up a bar to raise money for a trip at the end of term. Not to be deterred, they plied their wares at the pancaritas event, offloading some of their excess stock.

Bellver castle

In Palma, groups of people begin walking up the hill towards the Castell de Bellver mid-morning. Giant figures depicting characters from Mallorcan folk tales dance to bagpipe music at the castle. People tend to make a day of it, singing, dancing and participating in workshops.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Do remember to come back and check The Euro Weekly News website for all your up-to-date local and international news stories and remember, you can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

Annie christmas in the Bay of Palma
Written by

Annette Christmas

Annie Christmas loves language and communication. A long-time resident of Mallorca, she enjoys an outdoor life of cycling, horse riding and mountain walking, as well as the wealth of concerts and cultural events on the island. She also plays fiddle in a traditional Mallorcan dance troupe.