Christmas comes to Palma
I feel like I am living in something of a hybrid world. By day, Palma feels at worst like a day in early autumn, with freshly fallen leaves still scattering the pavement; at best it could be late summer or spring. However by night, when log fires burn within the old town houses and the late-opening shops glow from outside and in, it can feel very Christmassy. But any doubts that I may enter into the Christmas spirit following my relocation to the Mediterranean were completely dispelled last Friday when Palma de Mallorca initiated the great switch-on of its Christmas lights.
Switch-on in the Plaça de Cort
In the Plaça de Cort at the heart of Palma’s old town, so many people gathered that it was as if the whole of Mallorca had descended to witness the city leap into the Christmas season. Excited children sat up on the shoulders of their parents, while on a stage set up for the event, school choirs sung Christmas carols angelically. Then finally just after 7pm, the mayor appeared on the balcony of the majestic renaissance town hall and switched on the lights. Gasps of pleasure rippled across the crowd as we saw the walls of nearby houses, balconies, and even the skies come alight with Christmas light. Thousands of lights had been strung across the spaces between buildings, over squares, and even wrapped around tree branches so that the trees seem transformed into magical forests. Even palm trees, normally synonymous with tropical beaches and summer sunshine, had their trunks dressed in Christmas lights forming illuminated pillars lining Palma’s waterfront.
The city looks nothing short of stunning. Walking around its lit up streets is like being in an open air winter wonderland – a fairytale come to life before our eyes. And it’s not just the children whose eyes are widened by this spectacle. Adults too are visibly excited by the arrival of Christmas, frequently posing for photos before this array of light, and strolling around full of the festive cheer it brings.
And with the lights have arrived Christmas markets in many of the city’s squares and streets, most notable of which can be found in the brilliantly lit Plaza Mayor. There, stalls in their plenty sell nativity figures both traditional and more handmade to be placed within the Spanish “Belenes” – the most important of the traditional Spanish Christmas decorations. There is nothing that has not been thought of when it comes to building a Belen, from little water-running fountains to mechanical blacksmiths and plants and trees of every variety.
So Christmas has truly come to Palma, and I can’t deny that despite the warmer climes, I am starting to feel the Christmas spirit take me over…Time to decorate!
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