white pyjamas of Joan Mas in the Moors and Christians Fiesta

Being Joan Mas: from the hero of 2013’s Moors and Christians

The following is an article written for Talk of the North in the lead up to the Moors and Christians fiesta in 2015. 

Across Spain including here in Mallorca, Fiestas are kept alive year after year, they are testament to how proud people are of their villages. The time-honoured customs are loved and respected and for Pollensa, the Moors and Christians battle is their day. Come August 2nd you will see people young and old belting out the town’s anthem, Visca Pollensa with tear-inducing pride. 

But perhaps the largest dose of goosebump, hair-on-end thrill on the day is when Joan Mas jumps out of the window of his family home and calls, cries, shouts or wails for his townsfolk to come out (in their pyjamas) and kick the invading Moros out of town. Back in the day, that is what happened. Many people died but the Cristianos managed to keep hold of Pollensa, which is why Joan Mas is such a hero. His statue stands tall and proud in the Joan Mas Gardens and kids revere this icon from a young age. 

It is visiting this statue with his granddad that ignited the passion in Joan ‘Norai’ Cerdà Cifre’s heart and instilled the desire to one day be Joan Mas. In 2013, TOTN spoke to Norai about his experience of being Joan Mas.

He told TOTN, “While everyone wants the honour of being Joan Mas, not everyone can do it, you need confidence.” True enough, it is like theatre and, “Some people choose not to rehearse but I did. I had two different shouts, which I showed my friends and they told me which one to go for. On the day, I shouted until there was no more air in my lungs, I really wanted people to hear me and I wanted everyone else to feel it too. I was shaking to the very end.” Not everyone is so rehearsed though; in fact some take a completely spontaneous approach, which could be risky and maybe even disastrous. 

In terms of organization, Norai explained, “Joan Mas needs a troop of about 60 men to keep the frontline in order, Dragut and his men need 150! There are a lot of drunk people all getting together for the big clash and these men become your safety net.” 

“On the day, Joan Mas, Dragut and all the key characters need to be in top shape. While the sword and the shield are not heavy, Joan Mas has to carry the sword up high, which can be tough on your arm. Before the day, we visit some houses that are on route to organize a resting place where you can take a drink of water. They are secret places but to be asked is an honour and Joan Mas will have his photos taken with all the family and children.” 

He continues, “When you do it, it changes your life. It was all a big party before, but when you’re Joan Mas you take on a responsibility. All eyes are on you, the press are interviewing you and you will be Joan Mas for a year…”

Moors and Christian Fiesta sword and shield for Joan Mas

The Election

About 3,000 residents of Pollensa vote each year, in the middle of July, for their choice of who will play Joan Mas, Dragut and his two cronies as well as the three council men who bear the flags. Elections are held between 18h-22:30 in the Joan Mas gardens and candidates join the crowds along with their friends and family. It’s serious business and each year it feels like a mini fiesta that kicks it all off. 

The Moors and Christians Fiesta is just the last day of La Patrona, there is a full week of parties and events. See our What’s On page for all the details as they are released. For more information on the fiesta see our article on how to plan your day

Share this article:
Previous Post: The Moors and Christians: The August Fiesta not to be missed

June 7, 2024 - In Things to do, Fiestas & Events

Next Post: Sant Antoni: A much-loved fiesta that keeps January abuzz

June 10, 2024 - In Things to do, Fiestas & Events

Related Posts

Leave a Reply