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Mao traditions

The horse is the indisputable protagonist of the patron-saint fiestas of the villages and cities of Menorca. The fiestas of Mahon, in honour of la Mare de Déu de Gràcia, the city's patroness since 1890, are heirs to the tradition established by fraternities devoted to organising religious celebrations ever since the last third of the seventeenth century.

Known popularly as festa de cavalls, this type of fiesta is governed by strict protocols that dictate the development of the ritual and the functions assigned participants. The Junta de Caixers, the commission entrusted with organising the fiesta is made up of representatives from the different social classes: a representative of the Church, a nobleman or representative of the civil authorities, a countryman, an artisan and a bachelor. Another important character is the flabioler or flageolet-player, a man who plays the flageolet and drum while he leads the cavalcade on donkey-back as it winds its way through the city streets. The most eagerly awaited moments are the cargols, when riders circle specific points along the route and especially the jaleos, during which riders rear their horses over the crowd's heads to the rhythm of music. The costumes of the riders and ornamentation of the horses are particularly striking.

Numerous cultural acts, sports events, dances and fireworks shows are held during the fiestas, in addition to the festa de cavalls.

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