Christmas is the season to be jolly and where better than to feast on the festivities than on the idyllic island of Mallorca! As the autumnal leaves fall from the trees and a chill arrives in the air, the final season of the year, winter, is warmly welcomed back on the island. Palm trees are decorated with twinkling white lights which brighten up the darker evenings that lead up to one of the most important dates on the Catholic calendar: Christmas; Navidad in Castellano and Nadal in Catalan.
This beloved celebration, that honours the birth of baby Jesus, begins early in Spain, on 24th December, known as Nochebuena, when families come together to feast on roasted meat, fish and desserts washed down with copious amounts of wine. Afterwards, devout Catholics head to Misa de Gallo, midnight mass, at their local church, including Palma Cathedral, to celebrate the birth of the Son of God by singing traditional Christmas songs and carols. Meanwhile, children are bubbling with excitement because Papá Noel, or Tió de Nadal, has visited to deliver their gifts.
Are you starting to feel festive but need some gift ideas? This year, and every year, we believe that it is important to shop local, supporting local artists, artisans, and small businesses. Handmade, traditional crafts and unique treasures can be found at the festively decorated stalls of the numerous Christmas markets all over the island.
Festive Traditions in Mallorca
If you are based in Palma, perhaps in one of the statuesque townhouses in the charming Old Town or a newly-built complex complete with pool and jacuzzi, you are perfectly positioned to enjoy the build up to the festive season. Every year, the city council goes to huge efforts to make the city and its surrounding area a winter wonderland. At the end of November, the Christmas Lights are ceremoniously switched on; Passeig del Borne, the impressive boulevard in the city centre, becomes a stunning light display that captivates children and adults alike. A huge glittering Christmas tree near the cathedral also draws crowds each year.
The 18th century tradition of creating a nativity scene, known as ‘belen’, is very much alive today. In Palma’s magnificent churches, there are many highly ornate displays depicting Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem and many of the figurines are handmade and painted. A culturally-significant symbol of the festive season, this is an important reminder of the origins of this religious festival.
Christmas Markets with Shopping Inspiration
Plaza Mayor Market in Palma
In the city centre, Plaza Mayor hosts an annual market from 19 November to 5 January. The historical square is filled with restaurants, street performers and people full of festive cheer browsing the stalls selling traditional Christmas decorations and gifts, including the beléns, the handmade nativity scenes, an integral part of a Spanish Christmas. For handmade jewellery and ceramics or any other original gifts for friends and family, Plaza Mayor is ideal. After browsing the stalls, take a stroll down Calle San Miguel to admire the lights and then enjoy a churro and hot chocolate in Plaza Espanya, where there are more stalls selling Christmassy foods and gifts. Check out La Rambla-Via Roma, Plaça del Mercat and Pueblo Español for other holiday stalls.
Puerto Portals Market
A short drive southwest of Palma, Portals Nous is an exclusive residential area nestled in lush green hills and ideally located next to the sea. Sprawling villas with manicured gardens and huge swimming pools are dotted around the neighbourhood, a cosmopolitan mix of well-heeled residents. Puerto Portals, the port and luxury marina, is the perfect spot for yacht lovers who love the finer things in life. Swish restaurants and bars aplenty, Puerto Portals is a glamorous hotspot and come December, the port holds a Christmas Market in typically elegant Portals style. From 16 December until 6 January, this family market embraces the festive spirit with 40 wooden stalls offering all kinds of gifts alongside roasted chestnuts and Gluhwein–a spiced German mulled wine. Sparkling lights and decorations create a magical atmosphere with activities like carol singing, live and handicraft workshops for children, plus an ice rink for the perfect photo opportunity.
Christmas Mallorcan delicacies
Christmas Turrón is traditionally gifted at this time of the year. A nougat made from a delicious mixture of honey, eggs and toasted almonds or pistachios, turrón dates back to the Moors. Now quintessentially Spanish, the best quality, home-made varieties are sold at bakeries, or pastelarías around the island, most famously at Fornet de la Soca just off Palma’s La Rambla, which uses local, natural ingredients.
Experience the holidays on the island
The festive season stretches long past Christmas Day, which is a more relaxed familial affair, with a less elaborate lunch and more focus on the children who fill the streets to play with their new bikes and toys.
Día de las Santos Inocentes (Holy Innocents’ Day) is celebrated on December 28 when people play jokes on one another, much in the same vein as April Fools’ Day. This leads up to December 31, the final day of the year when you can expect fireworks and frolicking. Very much an occasion that is celebrated with friends, Nochevieja (New Year’s Eve) is a social affair filled with food and fun. At midnight, crowds gather in plazas or in front of the television at home to eat the 12 lucky grapes, one grape per chime of the bell at midnight. Then the parties begin! Generally, there is a lull in festivities until 5th January when there is typically a huge elaborate parade in Palma’s city centre where floats carrying performers in colourful costumes throw sweets into the crowd. The Tres Reyes Magos (the Three Kings) appear last, waving at the expectant faces who await yet more gifts next morning.
Christmas is truly a special religious and cultural celebration both in Spain and Mallorca. Although this year will feel a little different, there is no doubt that everyone will do their best to celebrate this magical time of year.
Would you like to spend the magical Christmas season with mild temperatures in your own property on Mallorca next year? Here you will find dream properties to enjoy year round living: