Among the Christmas customs that have carried on for generations, religious theatre is prominent with the children’s version of angels, imps and shepherds. Each Christmas there is a production of “Els Pastorells” in various theatres on the island to see the birth of Jesus and the adoration of the shepherds (hence the name “pastorells”). It is a tradition not to be missed. It is clearly of a religious and medieval origin although it didn’t appear in the children’s theatre in Menorca until the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
There have been many productions over the years. Some have been passed from hand to hand anonymously but many have known authors. The oldest productions are more religious but, over time, more irreverent topics were introduced in order to entertain the public and various aspects of everyday life were put into a comic format.
The strange thing is that not all the island has the same production of “Els Pastorells”. In Mahon, Es Castell, Sant Lluis and Es Mercadal there is a version which comes from the “Comedy of the Pastorells” of 1870 written by the parish priest Roc Coll. Since 2011 a version by the author Ferrer Magi has been produced in the education centre of La Salle de Alaior.
Ciutadella, for its part, is the municipality whose productions have maintained a greater drive. The Catechetical Centre of Sant Miquel has staged “Els Pastorets” every year since the mid 40s. Written by Josep Maria Folch i Torres, Rosend Llates or Bato i Borrego and an unknown author. In the early 60s Jaume Anglada wrote “Llum del cel” (Light of the Sky) which was performed until the early 70s when old texts were revived. In 2004 the theatre director, Maria Genestar, produced a version along the lines of the nativity story but based in the 1960s with a couple called Jose and Maria from Ciutadella.