From very early times, pancaritats have also been celebrated during the week following Easter at sanctuaries and chapels in Majorca, where it is traditional for those taking part to make their way up on foot and share the last empanadas or pies which are made during these days.
The most significant of these takes place at Bellver Castle in Palma, where each year more than 20,000 people congregate in an atmosphere of festivity and fraternity.
It is known as the Festa de l'Àngel as it is identified with the festivity of Sant Àngel Custodi de Palma (St Joseph, the Protector), which originated in this city in 1407 and was their most solemn fiesta during the 15th and 16th Century. As well as a magnificent procession and the performance of a short play, they used to have a ceremony to bless the bread for the needy. This is where the name pancaritat (blessing of the bread) comes from, as this fiesta is popularly called.
For years, the Fiesta del Ángel was suspended, until in 1982 it was brought back by the Federation of Neighbourhood Associations of Palma, which converted it into one of the most emblematic fiestas of the city. Each year, thousands of people meet together at Bellver Castle to take part in this romería, where various entertainment activities are programmed to take place throughout the day.
Popular dances and local products
The acts start in the morning on Sunday, when a procession presided over by the Mayor of Palma leaves the Plaza de Cort to make its way up to Bellver Castle. It takes half an hour to walk up, with other participants joining in along the way, and they are welcomed at the castle by gigantesa (giant figures made of papier-mâché) and xeremiers (traditional musicians).
The large open space situated on the castle slopes, a lovely spot surrounded by pine woods and overlooking the bay of Palma, is the setting for the customary displays of Majorcan dances, a parade by the Mounted Police of Palma, children's activities or the staging of the Passejada de l'Àngel (the procession of the Angel) by the group Llaüt de Carrer. At midday, the people spread out through the wood and share the food that they have brought along with them with their neighbours in a festive and fraternal atmosphere.
However, the day is long and the ball de bot (a typical Majorcan country dance) may accelerate our digestion and stimulate our appetites once again. But that is no problem, as different entities set up stalls where we can buy pies, and sweet pastries called rubiols which are filled with jam or cabell de'àngel (a sweet pumpkin filling), and other typical Majorcan products which provide us with energy until we get home again.
Throughout this day, there is restricted access to the wood and Bellver Castle for road vehicles, so it is advisable to use public transport.
There is a special bus service from the Plaça d'Espanya to Bellver street, every ten minutes.