I absolutely love Christmas in Mallorca. I can indulge in everything I like the most about the festive season, which begins in December and goes on until 6 January, when we celebrate the visit of the Three Kings – or Wise Men or Magi – to the baby Jesus.
The extra-long Mallorca festive season began for me a few days ago when I decorated the newly renovated Charles Marlow in Deià. I love the festive vibe, putting up the tree and so on, and every moment from now on will feel special to me.
This has a lot to do with the fact that Christmas in Mallorca is very much a time for family, mine and my partner’s. While I appreciate that Christmas can be a difficult time for some of us, I’m grateful that the two families I’m part of are so lovely.
I won’t be going back to the UK this year, which usually means spending time with my friends, so family is even more important.
Because Christmas here on the island is so family-focused, there are family gatherings one after the other. If you’re not used to this, it can be a little overwhelming. At the end of my first ever Three Kings day on the island, a really long day of eating and drinking at my partner’s family’s house, I burst into tears. It was lovely but exhausting.
Now I’m more used to all the eating and drinking, I really enjoy it. My mother-in-law prepares so many different dishes. Over Christmas, there will be cordero (roast lamb) or porcella, like suckling pig, and many many other dishes that usually include some fish. On the day of the Kings, there’s all kinds of fantastic tapas.
On the Kings, we also have Roscón de Reyes, a delicious brightly decorated flaky cake which has a figurine of a king, the baby Jesus or, in some parts of Spain, a broad bean hidden in it. It’s really lucky to find the figurine. But not the broad bean, I guess.
I don’t know if it’s just my partner’s family, but it seems like Mallorcans are not so obsessed with buying big electronic gifts. They also seem to have a healthier attitude towards giving their children phones, preferring to wait until children are a little older.
Younger children in the family often receive simpler gifts like handmade wooden toys. Something I’m all in favour of.
Although Mallorcan families do like to shop at the mall, in my experience they prefer to go to smaller local boutiquey shops for Christmas and birthday presents. They like to know the person in the shop and often have a relationship with them that’s been built up over time so they’ll enjoy catching up while buying gifts.
I much prefer this to shopping online or going to the big impersonal shops at Porto Pi or somewhere like that. This year, when Mallorcan businesses have struggled, it’s even more important to me to buy my Christmas presents locally.
Wandering around the Old Town of Palma and the city centre is a big part of the pleasure of buying gifts for people. There’s something absolutely magical about seeing the city illuminated with Christmas lights.
In previous years, I’ve also gone out into the country to the small, traditional Christmas fairs. This year they’re not happening although I do know that the Beehive in Alaro is having a virtual Christmas Fair and they have lovely stuff.
I’m also looking to buy experiences as gifts as much as possible.
This year, I’m also extra-aware of the fact that some people on Mallorca will be facing a difficult festive season. I’ll be doing what I can to help. If you’d like to do the same, there’s a list of some of the charities active on the island here.