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The Fiestas de Gràcia in Mahon are celebrated from the 6th to the 9th of September each year with a complete programme of activities organised by the City Council with the collaboration of many local associations and voluntary groups. The event begins with the opening speech from an important figure from Mahon society, or somebody with a special relationship to the people of Mahon.
Ceremony of The Sabado de Gracia (September 7th)
At the time indicated in the fiestas programme and coinciding with the pealing of bells that announces the start of the fiestas, the “fabioler” seeks permission from the “Caixer Batle” to start the “Replec” (the gathering of the riders). First of all he goes to find the “Caixer Fadrí” and then they return to the town hall, where the flag is handed over and the “Junta de Caixers” gathers, minus the “Capellana” and the “Caixer Batle”, to start the gathering of the rest of the “Colcada”.
All the riders pass before the Hall and take their hats off in salute as a sign of respect. The “Caixer Pagès” remains with his hat off and turned towards the “Caixer Batle" until he joins the “Colcada”. Next the members of the “Colcada” go to look for the “Caixer Capellà”, who awaits his turn at the Church of Santa Maria and whom is saluted with the taking off of hats. Once the “Caixer Capellà” has been greeted by the “Caixer Batle”, the former joins the “Colcada”. Next, the procession goes around the streets and squares of the town in accordance with the route previously marked out by the “Junta de Caixers”. Along the route, the participants raise their hats when passing official establishments.
Whilst the riders are part of the “Colcada”, they are required to behave with dignity and not smoke, drink alcohol or eat. If a rider needs to separate from the group out of any necessity or mishap, he or she must give prior notice to the “Caixer Pagès”, or the “Caixer Casat” or to a member of the “Junta de Caixers”, should the former two not be available, who will give approval if the request is sufficiently justified.
At the arranged time, the “Colcada” heads towards the “ Gràcia” chapel in order to participate in the “Completes” celebration.
The formation is as follows:
All the “Caixers” and the “Fabioler” form pairs.
The “Caixer Capellà” and the “Caixer Batle” enter the chapel; when the latter enters, he places himself to the left of the “Caixer Capellà”, as he does in the rest of the religious acts.
They are followed by the “Caixer Pagès” and then by the “Caixer Fadrí”, the “Fabioler” and the rest of the riders, from youngest to oldest, and to the sound of the drum and the “fabiol”.
The positioning is organized as follows: all the riders and the “Fabioler” form a cordon. The “Caixer Fadrí”, with the “Fabioler”, go before the procession; after follow the ”Caixer Batle”, the “Caixer Capellà”, the “Caixer Pagès”, the “Caixer Casat”, the other members of the “Junta de Caixers” and the rest of the riders.
The “Caixer Fadrí” salutes with the flag before the altar and places it at the position indicated in the presbytery. During the ceremony, various riders of the area hand out “aigua - ros” (rosewater).
Once the “Completes” are over, the riders, preceded by the “Junta” (minus the “Caixer Batle”, the “Caixer Capellà” and the “Caixer Pagès”), leave in pairs and gather at the church door and the patio entrance where they will be offered a drink by the “Caixer Capellà”. After having finished their drink, the procession leaves in the same order that they arrived, apart from the “Caixer Batle”, who now goes to the right of the “Caixer Capellà” and once again towards the Plaça de la Constitució.
Once they have arrived, they enter the square, following the order of the “Colcada”. The “Caixer Fadrí” hands over the flag to the respresentative of the municipal corporation. Once the “Caixer Pagès” has passed, the “Caixer Batle” enters the square, accompanied by the “Caixer Capellà”, and asks for the “Jaleo” to start.
All the riders pass through in groups of four. Upon entering and leaving, they must firstly greet the authorities and secondly the guests. Finally they greet the public in general. Afterwards, they ride their horses to music and make them rear up.
At the end of the three laps of the “Jaleo”, the “Caracol” takes place. This is called "del pont de San Roc". Here, the “Fabioler” returns to the front and enters the square. The “Caixer Fadrí” collects the flag.
The “Caixer Batle” and the “Capellana”, accompanied by the “Caixer Pagès”, place themselves before the main steps of the town hall, mounted on their horses, where they receive the greeting and the farewell from all the riders. Finally, the “Caixer Fadrí” returns the flag.
Dia de Gracia (September 8th, In The Morning)
In the morning, at the time indicated in the programme, the “Fabioler” goes to the town hall to ask permission to bring the “Colcada” together. The previous day’s ceremony is repeated: firstly he goes to find the “Caixer Fadrí”, then the rest of the riders. Already having delivered the flag and the “Colcada”formed, the streets and squares of the town marked in the itinerary are toured.
Shortly before the mass, the riders dismount and head in formation towards the statue of the Virgin. This is then carried to the church by four riders who are chosen amongst members of the “Junta”.
The order of formation of the riders is as follows: “Fabioler”, “Caixer Fadrí”, “Casat”, Members, Representatives of the mayor from Sant Climent and Llucmaçanes, the rest of the riders, the “Caixer Pagès”, the “Caixer Batle” and the "Capellana ”.
Upon reaching the parish church of Santa Maria, the Riders form a cordon in pairs, in the middle of which must pass the clergy and the statue of the Virgin. Then the riders follow, placing themselves at their reserved benches. The “Junta” take their places first of all.
The “Caixer Fadrí” salutes with the flag before the altar and then places it in the presbytery.
During the offering the riders, who had previously asked for it, share out the traditional “aigua-ros” (rosewater) that has been prepared before and deposited in the special glass watering containers owned by the town hall.
At the moment of Rising, the “Fabioler” plays a traditional piece on the drum and the “fabiol”. During the celebration cards relating to the “Fiestas de Gràcia” are also handed out.
Once the mass is over, when four riders accompany the statue of the Virgin, the other riders again form parallel lines from the doors of Santa Maria to the main entrance of the town hall. Next the “Fabioler”comes out and, to the rhythm of the drum and the “fabiol”, leads the way for the “ Junta de Caballeros” towards the town hall, with the following formation: the “Fabioler” and the “Caixer Fadrí”, some members of the “Junta”, the rest of the riders in pairs and the “Caixer Batle”, the “Caixer Pagès” and the “Capellana”. These last three members enter the town hall and invite the authorities to attend the” Jaleo”.
Next, the “Junta de Caixers”, following in the same order as before, leads the way for the authorities and guests towards the rostrum at Santa Maria. Once the authorities and guests have climbed onto the rostrum, the “Junta” heads towards the Plaça de la Conquesta, within the cordon of riders, and the riders in the cordon join the procession in turn as the “Junta” passes.
Once the riders have remounted, they get ready to leave the square an follow in the same manner as the previous day.
After two circuits to the sound of typical musical pieces, a green reed is given to each rider, a symbol of the fiesta that they must carry until the end of the events of the morning, with a silver teaspoon as a trophy. The first to receive one is the “Fabioler”. Next, the “Caixer Fadrí”receives one and he also receives the flag from the hands of the authorities present. Immediately after, the other riders pass by in order that the town hall representatives can hand over the green reed and the silver teaspoon, that is inscribed with “Festes de Gràcia” and the year.
When all the riders have received the traditional gift, the “Fabioler”enters the square, followed by all the “Colcada”. Together they form a large circle. Once the “Caixer Batle”, the “Capellana” and the “Caixer Pagès” have entered, they place themselves with their horses before the Town Hall steps. Meanwhile, with the playing of the “fabiol”, all the riders pass by and say farewell to the Mayor and the “Caixer Capellà”. After having dismounted, they gather in the Plaça de la Conquesta and head towards the town hall in a cordon. Having reached the doors, the “Capellana” and the “Caixer Batle”pass through the middle to all participate together in the traditional drink that is offered by Mahon town hall. Meanwhile, the participants situated in the Plaça de la Conquesta ask that they too want to drink, to the sound of de "Volem Vi" (We want wine!). After a few requests, bottles of wine with "Festes de Gràcia" labels and the year, start to be thrown from the town hall. In the last few years, this event has become very popular, as it is the only place in Minorca where it occurs.
The riders who wish to do so go around the houses of the town to deliver the traditional “aigua-ros” (rosewater).
Dia de Gracia (September 8th, In The Afternoon)
In the afternoon the “Fabioler” gathers together the riders who have to take part in the “Corregudes” (races) and who have concentrated in the Plaça de la Conquesta.
The “Colcada” is presided over by the “Caixer Batle”, the “Capellana” and the remaining members of the “Junta de Caixers”, and completed by the riders present at the races, whether they are participants or not. Once gathered they head towards Còs de Gràcia street.
Once the authorities present, members of the “Junta de Caixers” and the “Caixer Batle” have reached the finishing line, the “Caixer Fadrí”, accompanied by the “Caixer Pagès”, hands over the flag to the “Caixer Batle”, who will give the starter’s orders for the Races to begin.
The “Corregudes” are run by pairs of riders who are selected by a draw amongst those interested, in the presence of two members of the “Junta”, at the same time of the start. After every two races, the riders must return to the starting point for the same itinerary without stopping or making the horses rear up, then another race starts. The winners will receive a green reed from the hands of the authorities present and once the races are over, all the participants receive a silver teaspoon with the inscription “Corregudes” and the corresponding year.
Closing Ceremony (Septmeber 8th)
Once the races are over, the participants go to start the “Caragol” (route) of the old quarter. Later, once the sun has gone down, the solemn act of closing the “Colcada” takes place. This occurs in the Plaça de la Costitució, with the utmost devotion and respect of the participants, as, being a closing act, it is an emotional event.
The riders form a circle as they enter. Once the “Caixer Pagès” has entered and everyone is in place, the “Caixer Batle” and the “Caixer Capellà” pass through the middle and place themselves before the Town Hall. In this moment of silence, there is the last beat of the drum and playing of the “fabiol” and then the riders present pass before the “Caixer Batle” and the “Capellana”to say goodbye to them and then leave.
Once everyone has passed, the “Colcada” events are taken as being closed.
Dia del Puerto (September 9th)
The “Fiestas de Gràcia” change setting and all the activities move to the port in continued celebration of the municipality’s important day.
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