Customs and Traditions
In addition to knowing and visiting different corners of Menorca, you can't leave the island without discovering our traditions and customs. If you really want to enjoy Menorca, look beyond the unspoiled coves, savor our gastronomy, discover our craftsmanship, enjoy our parties... In short, immerse yourself in traditional Menorquina culture. You'll be surprised!
All the populations that have passed through the island throughout history have left their mark on the Menorquina popular culture. The transmission of customs, dances, songs, stories and words from parents to children has preserved the legacy of our ancestors.
On January 17th Sant Antoni, the Diada de Menorca, is celebrated, commemorating the conquest of the island by Alfonso III of Aragon, in 1287, with which the island was incorporated into the Catalan-Aragonese crown.
When it comes to music and dancing, the Menorquin fandangos, dances and popular songs that continue to maintain their traditional essence and that are not lacking in festive events stand out.
The celebrations and holidays also feature the "glossadors", poets who dominate, in an astonishing way, the improvised verse and demonstrate their ingenuity in oral combat using an ironic and critical tone.
The "rounds" are anonymous narratives that were formerly explained as a family around the fire or sitting on the fresh. They've gone from generation to generation to our day.
The English domination of the island brought numerous anglicanisms into the vocabulary of islanders who have not been lost. I'm sure you'd like to discover these words.
During the summer months, the different towns of the island celebrate their popular festivals. In these celebrations, the Horses of menorquina breed are the real protagonists.
After walking through the main streets of the village on the back of the horse, we begin what we call the "jaleo": the caixers and cavallers (riders) show their skills by jumping the horses to the rhythm of the music in the center of the square and in the middle of a crowd that helps them to lift them. Traditional and strict protocols are followed, including religious acts. And the squares and streets are filled with menorquins who live those days with great emotion, and tourists attracted to know these centuries-old parties.
The ones that mark the start calendar are those of Sant Joan, in Ciutadella. They are held in June and are the best known, although each village also celebrates its festivities.
The traditional dishes of the island are a combination of land and sea, of peasants and fishermen. The menorquina gastronomy is made up of the products that come from the countryside and those offered by the Mediterranean. In addition, it integrates influences from other cultures, a heritage of the different civilizations that have inhabited the island, especially Arabic, British and French cuisine.
There are a variety of typical dishes with seafood, but the lobster stew is undoubtedly the most popular.
One of the star products produced in Menorca is the famous Mahón Cheese, with Denomination of Origin. It is made with cow's milk and stands out for its slightly salty taste. There are two varieties of Mahon Cheese: semi-cured, with a softer flavor, and curing, with a more intense flavor.
Sobrasada, cuixot or camot, carn-i-xua, botifarró... The production of sausages goes back many centuries, and today they are still produced without haste, by hand, so as not to lose that flavor that makes them unique.
And there was no lack of pastries and pastry. With contributions from other cultures, the island pastries offer a rich variety of products. The famous ensaimada is one of the gastronomic products that tourists take the most, and the typical Menorquina ensaimada is the so-called coca bamba, more bulky, which is usually eaten with a cup of chocolate at the main festivities. Another very popular product at the festivals are pastissets, small sweet pastas in the form of a flower. And other sweet pastas are bitters and carquiñols, small biscuits, and crespells, larger and flatter cookies very sweet.
Although most of the pastries are found all year round. It is traditional to prepare for certain celebrations. For example, greixeres, cheesecakes, are usually eaten at Carnival, formatjades, small meat dumplings, are typical at Easter and fritters, in Todos los Santos.
And the most popular drink on the island is ointment. Made with Gin Xoriguer, which is distilled in the port of Maó, and with lemonade, it is drunk in the traditional festivals.
In recent decades the vineyards have been recovered and currently there are several wineries that produce wine with the name vi de terra Illa de Menorca, an identification that certifies the quality of the wines and that must be made with the varieties Cabernet sauvignon, Merlot, Monastrell, Tempranillo and Syrah, reds, and Chardonnay, Macabeo, Malvasia, Moscatel, Parellada and Moll, the whites.
Menorca retains its great artisan tradition. And it is that craftsman skills have been transmitted from generation to generation to the present day. Throughout the island we find small and large workshops that produce artisan products such as footwear, ceramics, jewelry, soaps, among many others.
The footwear industry is one of the most important in Menorca and the covers are the typical footwear par excellence. They look both Minorquins and tourists and have become so popular that they have crossed borders.
A very good opportunity to discover the craftsmanship that is made in Menorca, are the artisan markets. During the summer, all the villages set up night markets where musical performances are also organized, and Maó and Ciutadella also have day markets. I'm sure you'll find beautiful pieces to take as a souvenir.