The Sant Antoni Pine Tree

Pi de Sant Antoni 4One of the most spectacular Sant Antoni traditions here in Mallorca happens in Pollença every year on January 17th when the saint is celebrated. The ritual is called the Pi de Sant Antoni and there are two places where you can watch it and participate. There is a lunchtime event in Port de Pollença and there is a nighttime event, held in Pollença proper. Pi de Sant Antoni 3The more popular event in the town of Pollença involves a pine tree that is felled on the finca (estate) of Son Ternelles, owned by the March family of the Banca March enterprise, an estate not normally open to the public (there are exceptions upon the granting of a special permission). Every year, a tall pine tree, the Pi de Ternelles, is selected and cut down, stripped of its branches and bark, and prepared for the long haul back to Pollença. The proceedings are usually televised live on TV3, the main Mallorca TV channel.

Pi de Sant Antoni 6The separate jamboree in Port de Pollença involves an equally tall pine tree found and felled on the Peninsula de Formentor. Whilst the Ternelles tree is hauled back on country lanes and carefully navigated through the narrow streets of Pollença’s old town, the Formentor pine tree is brought back to Port de Pollença by boat. In the harbour, this pine tree gets hauled on shore and manhandled through the streets of the Port.

Pi de Sant Antoni 1Both undertakings involve the cheerful orchestration of a difficult task, enlisting Pollença’s younger generation and a bit of blood, lots of sweat and some tears. Lots of Mezclat (a sweet and powerful alcohol concoction) is consumed. There is plenty of xeremiers piping music as well as the occasional fire rocket.

The Ternelles pine tree is always erected next to Pollença’s parochial church in Plaça Vella where it is soaped before the male village youth compete to climb up the tree trunk, to claim the trophy in the evening at around 21h00.

Pi de Sant Antoni 2The lunchtime extravaganza in Port de Pollença has quite a distinct feel to it. The event in Pollença proper is more crowded and more alcohol seems to be consumed in the proceedings spanning almost the whole day, whereas in Port de Pollença smaller quantities are consumed, I suppose on account of the lunchtime hour, conditions which make the gathering here somewhat less claustrophobic. Pi de Sant Antoni 5The object of both events is for the male youth to attempt to climb up the soaped pine tree to claim the trophy, traditionally a live cockerel. It goes without saying that the win also assures the admiration of the community’s young females. This year’s winner in Pollença’s Plaça Vella was Sergi Gómez who had already clinched the prize twice before, in 2011 and in 2013. Well done. ¡Enhorabuena!

Pi de Sant Antoni 2If you have been to neither of the Pi de Sant Antoni events, I would suggest that perhaps next year you sample the activities in Pollença proper. I don’t think you will regret it.

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