Giants

View of Felanitx from the Santuario de Gracia, in the magic mountain of Cura
(Every picture is just a detail: for a complete view click on them!)

It’s a long time that the ancient giants, bellicose and ruthless, not to mention ugly as hell, do not trample on the bosom of their mother, the Earth. Having spread from their native Phlegras in Thracia all over the world, they became so impudent to challenge the skies by throwing up rocks and burning trees. Then the gods had no choice but to ally themselves with the mortals to do away with them. One by one they were destroyed. First fell Alcyoneus, then lust-blinded Porphyrion was killed by an arrow of Hercules, then Ephialtes – who needed two arrows, one in each eye –, Eurytus, Clytius, Mimas, Enceladus – still breathing sometimes under the mountains of Sicily –, Pallas – whose skin pulled off was taken up by Athene –, Polybotes – buried under the island of Nisyrus, which was occupied exactly seven hundred and two years agom on August 15, 1306 by the Knights Hospitallers under the command of their master Fulco of Villaret (and effectively aided, lest we forget, by a Geonese pirate) – and finally Hippolytus, Aigaion, Agrius and Thoon… All dead. The memory of these massacres remains fragmented, almost illegible on the fallen temple facades covered with grass under the feet of tourists.

Randa

Then a race of minor giants appeared in the forests and deserved places of the islands of the Mediterranean, and at times arrived to a modus convivendi with neighboring villages and towns. Some of them were hostile and sullen, and even eaters of human flesh – preferably of children. But there were also many good-hearted, devout Christians, sedulous peasants, millers, shepherds, and other honest taxpayers.

On the day of St. James, when the towns and villages of Mallorca dress in their best to celebrate their holy patron, and paper tapes are hung from side to side of the streets to freshen the air with their rustling fringes like fountains or alleys, I was in Santanyí. I was walking with my good Hebraist friend Két Sheng and his family who just arrived from the cool and peaceful peninsula of Jütland, once a living place of the jotuns born from the armpit of the immense Ymir who could not bear to hear the bells of the churches. Those jotuns of Jütland, as we know, avoided walking near civilized places, as they were so enraged at a single sound of a bell that they immediately launched boulders at the towers.

When turning right on Carrer de la Pau, Két Sheng and his family took a big surprise. Without our knowledge, we have arrived to the annual meeting of giants coming from different villages in Mallorca.



I felt obliged to reassure the good Hebraist Két Sheng by telling him that these were absolutely not the improbable descendants of some huge Biblical nefilims who took refuge in the island following the Flood. Here in Mallorca, just as there are no poisonous snakes, so there are no nefilims or jotuns. The most dangerous giant is a beautiful woman, “Na Maria Enganxa”, “the Hooky Mary” of Felanitx, who sometimes emerges from the darkness of the night to take away some children, but she usually prefers to live in the wells and cisterns, where she hooks inside whoever leans above the water.

The others are good people (more or less). Under the protection of the Eucharist and the Sacred Heart of Jesus repeating itself on the thresholds of the houses, we reach the main square. Certainly, there are not all the giants of Mallorca there – which are exactly seventy-four according to the renowned gigantologist Pau Tomàs Ramis –, but at least some high class ones.

The origin of the giants gathering here today are the processions of Corpus Christi.
Gigantologists say that the first giant of the island came here well after
his brothers went to Barcelona. It was in 1630, on the procession
of the Corpus in Sóller. And the first one known by name
was “En Puput” (puput =hoopoe) of Sant Llorenç.


The first giants entering the square are “Es Trinxeter” accompanied by “Madò Coloma”.
A trinxeter is a maker of curved knives like the one carried by the giant.
He is a great fan of acting in dramas and plays, and as you see,
he never stops smoking. He was born in 1914.


Madò Coloma was born in 1887, and albeit illiterate, she is the author of the most successful
book in Mallorca: Selected Mallorcan Cuisine. She published it as an old lady,
after a lifetime of sweating in the kitchens of noble houses.
It has sold over 100,000 copies.

At a party, if you don’t keep your eyes open, strange people infiltrates all the time.

“Na Bet” and “En Roc” came from the village of Porreres. They are two serious types with a
disdainful, almost haughty look. They faithfully reproduce the figures
of two pastors of an eighteenth-century Bethlehem
preserved in the church of the village.


From the widespread race of the Felanitx giants, there come dancing “Na Maria Enganxa”, the Hooky Mary, and the “Gegant des Macolí”, the Pebble Giant. This latter is a figure that does not exactly inspire confidence. He keeps one of his sandals in the hand, and comes with one foot bare. Legend has it that one day as he climbed the mountain of San Salvador, he got a stone in the shoe. He sat down in the gutter and threw it out there. But what to him was a small pebble, on a human scale is a huge boulder that can still be seen today where he left it off. His partner the blue-eyed and attractive-looking Mary makes a gesture to us to come nearer. However, in the other hand she carries a bucket and a hook. You cannot trust in her, for if you do not watch out, she will crawl you to the bottom of the well, pond or cistern where she hides. Here we see her dancing under the watchful eyes of the hosts of the feast, the giants of Santanyí.

The giants of Santanyí are “En Bernat Cinclaus” (cinc claus = cinco llaves, five keys) and “Na Maria Ramis”. They are of a noble family residing in this coastal region. It is said that Bernat has great magical powers. The rooms in his house have been guarded by five demons, each with a golden key. He is able to control the rain and he is a master of birds of prey. He built a secret tunnel that lets him get from the tower of his house in Santanyí to Palma in five minutes. His wife Mary, having extraordinary forces, helped him to build the tower with the cyclopean stones of the talaiots, the prehistorical buildings scattered in the region.


To the left, another giant of Campos: “Es vaquer” (the Cowboy) who has a melancholic look
with his milking stool in one hand and a bucket in the other. Perhaps because his
profession, once prevalent in Campos, has almost disappeared by now.


“El Vaquero” comes hand in hand with “Sa collidora de tàperes” (the Collector of Capers). And if the job of cattle-guarding has almost disappeared, so the trade of women who, cowered up to the eyebrows picked capers under the summer heat on the dry stony lands of Campos, is also in decline. Look how she covered her hands so that the sun does not burn them.


And of course the feast cannot miss the representatives of Palma. From there came, dressed
very elegantly, the two best musicians, a “xeremier” (bagpiper) and a “flabioler” (flautist).