One of the most important events of the year in Menorca, is undoubtedly the fiestas of Sant Joan in Ciutadella. Just a date on the calendar of June but it is also in the heart of many Menorquins, who look forward to this big day.
In fact, the beginning of this tradition starts the weekend before June 24, the day of Saint John, when the citizens celebrate “the wake” and “the day of the sheep”, two symbolic remembrances will be placed around the lamb, symbols of Christendom, to remember the animal that accompanies the image of the prophet John the Baptist. The night of “la vetlla” (wake) will be the night of Saturday 17 and on the “des be” (lamb) day, on Sunday, June 18. During the previous week, at the “Caixer Pagès” (house of the farmer), The lamb will be washed so his wool is an immaculate white.
The same afternoon the lamb is transferred from the estate of the “Caixer Pagès” (farmers house) at 21:00 to an inn where the start of the tour around the streets will take place the next day. The lamb will receive throughout the night and early morning many visits from the inhabitants of the town and most of Menorca. They will be the center of all eyes, from the youngest to the most senior who will want a photograph taken next to him. The neighbours will open up their homes to join the party and offer food and drink to friends.
Early on Sunday morning, the man who will represent the figure of John the Baptist, will go and collect the lamb, to carry it on his shoulders and walk around Cuitadella. As the tradition orders, the lamb will wear the symbols in its white wool and “S’Homo des Be” (the carrier) will wear lambskins and crosses painted on his bare feet, arms and chest.
Meanwhile, the “Junta de Caixers” (organizers of the fiesta) will start in the “Caixer Senyor” Palace (Palace of the nobility), who will then deliver the flag to the “Caixer Fadrí” and then “fabioler (a flute player) will sound for the first time the drum and the” flabiol “(a wooden flute with three holes that emits a very peculiar sound). Subsequently, the handing over headed by “S’homo des Be” will continue its procession through the streets of Ciudadela visiting the religious and civil buildings of the festival such as the City Hall, the Episcopal Palace, the Hospital and the houses of the “cavallers” to announce that The festivities of San Juan are about to start.
Last but not least will be a release of hazelnuts with which to signal the start of San Joan and with this the Municipal Band of Music, will sound the first Jaleo of the year: and the cry of Sant Joan is here will be shouted around the town.