Kiko, you tourist guide
Kiko discovers Carnestoltes at the Menorca carnaval
We have had a great time! I have celebrated the carnival festivities in Menorca with Cuqui and Hooky. We have disguised ourselves, we have prepared coal- roasted sobrasada and we have laughed a lot. In Menorca the carnival’s days have ended with the burial of Carnestoltes, a cheeky and shameless character that invite us to have fun during the carnaval.
Thursday is for children. In the morning they go out in disguise from the infant schools and they walk with their teachers by the streets. Some moms take pictures and the little ones cling to a rope so they do not get lost or get out of the way.
In Menorca, Thursday is for children
On the island this Thursday is called "Dijous llarder" which means something like Thursday's "fat of pork". It is the last before Lent and one of the last days in which meat can be eaten, according to the Christian religions. That's why in Menorca they call the carnival "els darrers dies", that is, "the last days".
- "But this Thursday dedicated to children it is not only a Minorcan custom," says Hooky who has lived in several countries. "In many places there are Carnival children's parties
- "Have you ever been in any of these parties, Hooky? Cuqui asks him.
- "One winter I was in Germany. In Cologne. There is the carnival Monday which is dedicated to children. A funny parade of people in disguise is celebrated and the children shouted Kameflle! Kamelle! The participants in the parade threw candy and other goodies. They also threw lowers. It was beautiful and I had a great time even though it was very cold.
Here it is typical to eat sobrasada. Some friends had prepared a good fire and we put pieces of sobrasada and butifarrón, which is another typical inlay from Menorca. When they are well toasted, place the pieces on top of bread spread with tomato and it is just delicious!
Dance with masks in Menorca
In the afternoon we all went out in disguise. Hooky insisted on being a pirate. But he is already a pirate! We met many children like him and he was excited to see them. There were also characters from Disney, Star Wars, cowboys and Indians ... and some girls danced in the middle of the street dressed as sailors and carried a colorful boat. Cuqui had disguised herself as a dancer and kept moving her arms and imitating them. How funny!
- "I want to have a mask, Kiko," Cuqui tells me.
- "They do not wear masks here. This is a custom of one of the most famous carnivals in the world, those of Venice, in Italy. There all wear masks that cover their faces and go very elegant, " Hooky says. "And in Rome they also celebrate a great parade and horse races, it's a lot of fun."
- "Here, in Ciutadella, they organize a dance called" el ball de tapadets "in which the participants hide behind masks so that nobody knows who they are. While the orchestra plays a group dances and, when the song ends, they take them off surprising everyone. It is a very old custom ", I explain them.
An imp in the carnival of Menorca
We continued walking around the streets and there were more and more groups of children playing with their costumes. One of them confronted Hooky with a plastic sword and pretended to engage in a fight between pirates.
I dressed up as a devil. And luckily I put on warm clothes underneath because it was quite cold. They have been tramuntana days in Menorca, a dry wind that comes from the north. Carnival almost always is celebrated in February, why do not you celebrate it in summer?
- "You should go to England," Hooky tells me. "The Notting Hill Carnival is organized in August and it is a very popular party. They say it's the biggest street festival in Europe, "says Hooky, who seems like an expert on European parties.
Carnestoltes, a tradition of Menorca
In Menorca there is a very popular fictitious character: Carnestoltes or Camestortes. It is a doll stuffed with straw that formerly walked by carriage through the streets of the towns of the island. He is the one who encourages everyone to enjoy carnival parties, to dance, to eat and play with friends.
Now it's only on carnival Tuesday, "darrer dimarts" when he is comming out. As the party ends, Carnestoltes is presumed dead. They walk through the streets of some towns, such as Alaior and Mahón, while the music plays. People dress in black and cry for his death with laughter because it is the last act of the party.
A very alive dead to finish the carnival
We were in Mahón watching the show. A band of drums paraded in front of the box in which they were taking Carnestoltes. And, suddenly, he got up and started to sing!. Cuqui almost fainted from fright. He was alive and he was not a straw doll! They had deceived us. He was a young man from the village posing as Carnestoltes.
We went to the town hall and then to the Teatro Principal, which is beautiful, the oldest opera theater in Spain. There they read the ironic and funny testament of Carnestoltes. Everyone laughed because names of well-known people from the island were named.
When we returned to Kikoland, Hooky continued to tell us stories of how they celebrate carnival in other European cities. For example, in Düsseldorf they dedicate a day to women and they are the ones that rule and in many places in the United Kingdom they have the tradition of eating pancakes, some pancakes that Hooky says are delicious. How do you celebrate the carnival?