Liberty will be in the air this week across Palma as Mallorcans celebrate the conquest of Islamic Mallorca over seven centuries ago, while Balearic separatists prepare for their annual demonstration for independence from Spain.
On Thursday December 31 the Festa de l’Estendard (Banner Festival), one of Europe’s oldest folk festivals dating back to the 13th century, will be held in honour of the Christian Catalan King Jaume I, who liberated Mallorca from the Moors in 1229. Proud Mallorcans of all political persuasions will gather at Cort Square to witness the historic ceremony of the laying of the Royal Standard of the Conquest of Mallorca.
There will be a mass held in the cathedral followed by the traditional recitation of the Colcada, a poem written by Pere Alcantara in 1861, while iconic folk figures, music, and dances will accompany the festive parade.
This evening, December 30, a traditional pro-separatist rally will descend upon Palma, as demonstrators demand full autonomy for the Balearic Islands under the umbrella of the wider Catalan nation.
Platform 31, a diverse coalition of left-wing nationalist groups and unions, will organise the rally which will begin at 6pm from the Passeig des Born and march to Plaça Bisbe Berenguer de Palou. Known as 31D, the political rally began in 1986 and has attracted tens of thousands in the past. Key demands are the recognition of the Balearics as part of the Catalan family, self-determination, and the protection of the Catalan language and culture.
In recent years the rally has attracted more fervour and controversy as the Popular Party (PP) political hegemony across the islands has sparked a wave of protest and anti-austerity sentiment.
The PP also cut legal protections for Catalan in 2012 igniting the largest protest to date that year. Recent rallies have seen a sea of Esteladas (Catalan flags) waving in the air and calls to move the official regional holiday (Diada de Mallorca) from September 12 to December 31 in honour of Jaume’s triumph.