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Find Out Why One Lamb in Menorca is Treated Like a Movie Star

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Staying in a villa in Menorca is a great way to really feel a part of the island’s way of life. And nothing brings the colour and culture of this Balearic island more vividly to life than the fiestas thrown by its towns throughout the year.

The traditional fiestas, which often last several days and include a religious procession, are celebrations of the towns’ patron saints’ birthdays.

But while the motivation may be religious, these are not solemn affairs. The fiesta is a celebration, and the people of Menorca take their celebrating seriously! This usually means lots of singing, dancing, eating, drinking and dressing up.

The party atmosphere which takes over the villages and towns during their fiestas is a treat for visitors to see, but don’t expect to stand on the side-lines. The fun and festive mood is infectious and visitors are made to feel welcome and encouraged to join in.

Many of the fiestas take place over the summer months, so if you’re lucky enough to be renting a villa in Menorca during this time, it’s well worth finding out if there are any planned during your stay.

Ciutadella’s Fiesta de Sant Joan

One of my favourite fiestas, with a rather strange tradition, is the Fiesta de Sant Joan in Ciutadella. The celebration of the town’s patron saint, Saint John the Baptist, can be traced back to medieval times and lasts for five days around the saint’s birthday on 24 June.

While the fiesta is spectacular enough with its parade of black Menorcan horses and towns people, live music, street entertainment, and lots of gin and lemonade, it is the Day of the Lamb which makes it so strange and, for me, so special.

Ciutadella’s Celebrity Lamb

On the first day of Ciutadella’s Fiesta de Sant Joan, known as the Day of the Lamb, it is traditional for a man to carry a lamb through the streets of the town on his shoulders to represent John the Baptist carrying Christ.

Before you worry about any potential animal cruelty, it’s worth noting that the lamb is treated like a celebrity by the people of Ciutadella.

Selected at birth from a special Menorcan breed, the lamb is pampered and cared for until the big day when it is washed and decorated with ribbons and rosettes and given a crown to wear between its horns.

Neither is the lamb simply cast aside after the fiesta (or worse, eaten!), instead it is given to the man who carried it (known as the Homo des Be) who must promise to look after it for the rest of its natural life.

To ensure the lamb is calm on the all-important day, the Homo des Be visits the lamb beforehand and they become acquainted before he practices carrying it.

On the day of the fiesta the lamb is hoisted on to the man’s shoulders and carried through town with a police escort and marching band, stopping off (like any good celebrity) for photos along the way.

Join the Fiesta

Renting a villa in Menorca can be more than just a holiday – it can be a window into a traditional Balearic way of life, a way to connect with the rich history and vibrant culture of this very special island. Visiting a local fiesta could prove to be the perfect to immerse yourself in island customs, and the the highlight of your whole trip.
About author: Desiree Michels

Brenda Jaaback, Managing Director of Bartle Holidays, is a renowned Menorca expert. From its history to its people and from its wildlife to its cuisine - no secret of the island remains hidden to her. Personally selecting the finest properties for her clients, Brenda is the go-to person for anyone looking for a villa in Menorca for a relaxing holiday. Bartle Holidays makes no warranty as to the accuracy of information contained in this article and excludes any liability of any kind for the information.

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