THE HOLIDAY OF SANT CIRIAC
During the first week of August Eivissa is particularly radiant. The town is dressed up and decorated with flags, parades and bountiful fireworks. For days people revel, honour and sing. A buzz of activity is mixed with religion and tradition. There are various happenings which come together for this large event. Eivissa celebrates the “Festes de la Terra”, which means “The festival of our country.” This is all about the island Ibiza, and its history.
August 5th belongs to Eivissa’s patron saint Santa Maria de la Neus, the „holy virgin of snow.“ The cathedral of Dalt Vila was also named after her. It is the patronage celebration of the island’s capital; the party for Eivissa. Only three days later one honours holy Sant Ciriac and remembers the Catalan conquest, which was on this same day in 1235.
Reason enough to have a big party. The town celebrates itself and the visitors are rewarded. Colourful processions fill the streets. There are performances, folklore and concerts on many of the squares, there are competitions and exhibitions… and lots and lots to see. The town also shows its dignity and respect to the meaningful background of the Fiestas. Numerous traditional religious acts take place.
The day of the Catalan conquest is very important for the religious Ibicencos, because due to it Ibiza and Formentera were incorporated into Christianity and the Western world. Before this the Moors reigned on the Pituses and with them Islam.
A romantic legend surrounds the conquest. The reigning Sultan Yebusah allegedly seduced his brother’s favourite slave. It is said that out of revenge the brother left the town to the Christians.
The invaders met no resistance and all they had to do was divide Ibiza amongst themselves. Among them were Guillermo de Montgri (the Archbishop of Tarragona), the Prince of Portugal and the Earl of Roussillon. Catalan became the official language. This all happened under the rule of the king of Aragon, Jakob I.
The 8th of August symbolises the beginning of a new era for Ibiza. It is one of the most popular festival days and begins in the morning with a ceremony in the cathedral in honour of Saint Ciriac. Afterwards a procession with all the parish flags of Ibiza passes through the streets. An historically important parade: the flag of Sant Llorenç, the island’s oldest standard, has been flown for two hundred years. Other flags have gone through quite a lot, for example the one with the emblem for Sant Jordi: it was buried during the civil war, to keep it safe.
A stop in the chapel of Sant Ciriac, tucked away in Dalt Vila on a street of the same name, also belongs to the festivities. It is a tiny chapel shaped like a barred little room. Under the statue of the saint there is a particularly rough arch which, according to legend, the Christians passed through, lead by the remorseful brother of the moslem Sheik.
Today one throws coins through the arch to challenge luck. The procession ends at the Plaza de España with a donation of flowers and the performance of a country dance next to the Guillem de Montgri monument.
In the evening there is the legendary “berenada”, a picnic on the Puig de Molins hill, which Ibicencos traditionally celebrate on this day with pastries, sandwiches and other homemade fare.
As a festival highlight huge fireworks illuminate the sky over Dalt Vila. The historical place thus shines for some moments in incomparable light.