Sant Antoni - Diada de Menorca: the origin of the festivity

Once Christmas is gone & January arrives in Menorca, the Diada del Poble de Menorca is celebrated again on the island, on the day of Sant Antoni, January 17. Do you want to discover the origin of this festival and thus learn a little more about the culture of our island?

Diada de Menorca: el origen de la fiesta
Diada de Menorca: the origin of the festivity

On January 17, coinciding with the day of Sant Antoni, the "Diada del Poble de Menorca" is celebrated, which commemorates the reconquest of the island by Alfonso III of Aragon, including it from the Catalan-Aragonese crown in 1287. The occupation of Alfonso's III troops puts an end to more than three centuries of Arab rule and Menorca was almost entirely repopulated by people from the Ampurdán region who introduced some of the characteristic features of Menorca to the island even today.

There is evidence of the celebration of this festival at least since the 16th century. It was in 1643 that the General Council got Pope Urban VIII to reconfirm Sant Antoni as the patron saint of the island, thus giving this "diada" an even more solemn air. And it is believed that it was Sant Antoni who was entrusted to Alfonso III at the time of the reconquest of the island, for this reason, he is considered the patron saint of Menorca, along with his relationship with animals, an essential part of the tradition of the island.

Already at that time, we find evidence of the procession that is still held today in Ciutadella. If we go forward to the 19th century, we see that the Sant Antoni procession was also held in Maó. The acts counted on the presence of the clergy and the civil authority.

Procesión de los tres toques
The procession of the “tres tocs

The town participated in the festivity by offering a representation of “lluita entre moros i cristians” in which all the houses in the city were illuminated and the townspeople threw cabbages to simulate the resistance of the Arabs.

The tradition was prohibited in 1820 when Menorca had already passed definitively to the Spanish crown, although in 1887, on the occasion of the sixth centenary of the conquest, many of the houses and all the public buildings of Maó were illuminated to accompany the procession that took to the streets after the religious celebration.

After this memorable milestone, the festival fell into decline for about a century until, in 1981, the Menorca Island Council declared the day as "Diada del Poble de Menorca", where the events once again became regular on the Menorcan calendar.

Torrada popular
Popular torrada of Sobrasada and Botifarró

Today, the main events of the festival are centered in Ciutadella, where you can find the current version closest to the old traditions.

The most important act of the Diada is the procession of the “tres tocs”, which takes place after the mass in the Cathedral, which symbolizes the entry of King Alfonso III's troops into the portal of Maó. The ecclesiastical community as well as the political authorities participate in it, accompanied by the community that attends as the audience.

Also in Ciutadella, we find the Sant Antoni market where traditional dates and oranges are sold throughout the morning... and a pig is raffled.

Bailes típicos
Tipical Menorcan dances during DIada de Sant Antoni

If we visit the different municipalities of the island we will also find different markets and parades, as well as the blessing of the animals and various popular "torrades", where you will be able to taste the classic sandwiches of Sobrassada and Butifarró.

The "torrada" is another of the most emblematic traditions of the day of Sant Antoni. Sobrasada and Butifarró being one of the most typical sausages on the island, eating a sandwich near the fire where they are being cooked while enjoying typical dances such as the fandango and the jota is a must in January in Menorcan.

Now that you know a little more about the origin of the Diada del Poble de Menorca, we recommend that you read the program of events that have been planned to commemorate such a special day.

From Portal Menorca we wish you a happy "Diada del Poble de Menorca".