EL DIA DE LES VERGES AND EL DIA DE TOTS SANTS: THE MALLORCAN HALLOWEEN
As in most destinations, the Sóller Valley has festivities that are well known by all visitors, such as the Fiestas de Sa Fira i Es Firó, the Fiestas de Sant Bartomeu or Easter. However, there are other festivities that are less well known by visitors. These festivities are celebrated in most of the municipalities of Mallorca and have a long historical tradition. A tradition that marks and characterises the local culture of this Mediterranean island at all levels. That is why today we are going to talk about two of these very special days for Mallorcans, including the inhabitants of the Sóller Valley. We are talking about the Dia de les Verges and what we could call the Mallorcan "Halloween": the Dia de Tots Sants. A festivity which, despite having the same purpose as the Halloween we all know, is celebrated in a totally different way in our municipality.
21ST OCTOBER: THE DAY OF THE VERGES
The Dia de les Verges is a traditional Mallorcan celebration that is held every year on the 21st of October, coinciding with the legend of Saint Ursula and the 11,000 virgins. The story goes that Saint Ursula, a young woman in the Middle Ages who converted to Christianity, promising to keep her virginity, decided to make a pilgrimage to Rome and have her vows consecrated. Ursula managed to be received by the pope who consecrated her vows of virginity. However, on her return home, she was surprised by the attack of the Huns. The king of the Huns fell in love with her but she resisted along with 11 other maidens to give herself to the king and lose her virginity, for which they were martyred. For years it has been said that there were 11,000 instead of 11 because of an error in the spelling of the legend. However, this story spread to many parts of Europe, including the island of Mallorca, and today it has become one of the most traditional festivities on our island. A festivity in which homage is paid to the Patron Saint of the Virgins during the night of 20th October and 21st October, Dia de les Verges (Day of the Virgins).
On the 21st of October, young men serenade the girls they like, their girlfriends or their friends, and in exchange, they give them fritters. This is one of the most popular sweets in Mallorca. Although it is true that nowadays the tradition has been lost, several schools in the Sóller Valley still celebrate this festivity with carnations and fritters. The girls receive carnations and then eat fritters together.
The residents of the municipality also continue to celebrate this festivity, and for this reason, on the 21st of October you will probably find carnations in the centre of Sóller, in flower shops and so on, as well as potato fritters, one of the most traditional sweets of autumn and obviously of this festivity, in the different local bakeries and even in some "paradeta" which sell them on that day for the purpose of the festivity. As well as fritters, it is also a tradition to eat roasted almonds during this festivity in the Sóller Valley, a nut that you can also find on this day in the centre of the municipality. Undoubtedly a festivity full of history and tradition to get to know part of the local culture and gastronomy as well as some typical songs of this very special festivity celebrated in honour of the legend of Saint Ursula and the 11,000 virgins.
1 NOVEMBER: EL DIA DE TOTS SANTS (SAINTS DAY)
The festival of Tots Sants is known and celebrated in different ways all over the world: Halloween in the USA, the Day of the Dead in Mexico or Samhain Night in Scotland. However, in the Sóller Valley we celebrate this festival dedicated to the dead in a totally different way, although the origin of the festivity is the same as almost everywhere else in the world: the Celtic festival of Samhain. An ancient festivity in which the new year was celebrated (related to agriculture and the arrival of winter). A time when the agricultural year comes to an end, the cold weather arrives and the sowing season begins. Thus, at this time, according to Celtic culture, the souls of the dead returned to earth. A belief that almost all of Europe inherited and which we still celebrate today.
In the Sóller Valley, as in many other municipalities in Mallorca, it is customary to go to the cemetery on the 1st of November: Tots Sants, to visit deceased relatives, bring them flowers and clean the graves. It is a very special date when the local cemetery is dressed up and looks really beautiful. For this reason, and although it is a festivity related to the dead, we recommend that you visit the Valle de Sóller Cemetery on these dates if you have the opportunity. It is important to point out that the Valle de Sóller Cemetery is one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the Tramuntana. Surrounded by nature and, at this time of year, full of fresh flowers, decorations and local people. Without a doubt a different experience to get to know the local culture first hand and to visit a place that is not so touristy but very worthwhile. To do so, we can set off on foot directly from the Gran Hotel Sóller in the direction of the cemetery, which is a 10-15 minute walk from the Hotel. Likewise, after visiting it, we can continue our walk in the direction of Ses Tres Creus, a viewpoint located at the end of the same road that does not lead to the cemetery, so it is a perfect route for this time of year. The climb to Ses Tres Creus takes about 20 minutes, but it is highly recommended as from here you can enjoy incredible views of the , the Sóller Valley, the Mediterranean Sea Tramuntana mountain range and Fornalutx, all from the same spot. Also, after enjoying the place, we can go back to the main square of Sóller and buy a Rosari. A marzipan sweet in the shape of a necklace typical of these festivities which, according to tradition, godparents give to their godchildren on the Dia de Tots Sants (All Saints' Day). Nowadays they are made in many sizes and flavours, not just marzipan, so you are sure to find one to your liking! Finally, on this day you can also enjoy the atmosphere of the centre of Sóller, as the Plaça Constitució area is full of life and the local shops on Calle de La Luna are usually open!
Finally, if you want to discover more emblematic and special places for these festivities, we recommend you to go up to Fornalutx, our neighbouring municipality. An idyllic village in the Tramuntana where you can also visit its picturesque little cemetery set among centuries-old olive and carob trees. Located right next to a wonderful hiking trail where you can take a fantastic walk before enjoying an aperitif in the square of Fornalutx.
Discovering the destination, the landscapes, the culture, the people and the traditions of the places we visit is one of the things that fills each of our trips with value, that part that makes each trip enriches us. Getting to know the place, the customs, the people, the gastronomy, etc. And the Dia de les Verges and Dia de Tots Sants are, without a doubt, two not so "popular" dates but perfect for this!
If you are staying at our hotel and would like more information about the Dia de les Verges and/or the Dia de Tots Sants, as well as other places to visit on these dates in the Valley of Sóller and its surroundings, do not hesitate to ask our reception team, who will be delighted to help you.