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The “Jaleo”, or the Menorca Horse Festivals

This summer I have been to Menorca, my favorite island, for the zillionth time. Not only am I really curious about its beautiful and idyllic coves, but also about the way every village on this super Mediterranean island celebrates its fiestas. First celebrated in the 14th century, the Jaleo consists of making horses dance among the crowd while an orchestra plays the same song over and over again.

Menorca, one of the Balearic Islands, is famous because of its incredible coves (small beaches) and its gastronomy. The well-known Maó cheese, the Sobrasada, and of course, the Gin and all the amazing drinks they make mixing gin with lemon juice (Pomada). I have been visiting the island since I was very little with my family and the fiestas organised in its villages and cities have always amazed me.

Jaleo!

Jaleo, now also used to the name this celebration, is how this hundred-year-old way of making Menorca horses dance to the music played by an orchestra has always been known. The dance lasts a couple of hours and all along the music is the same. The horses, especially decorated for the occasion – like the horsemen, parade (one by one or in small groups) through the Plaza Mayor, the main square of the village. The horsemen, helped by the crowd, make the horses stand on their rear legs and do as if they danced with the mob.

This summer I could only go to the Jaleo in Alaior, celebrated on August 10th and 11th. I went on Sunday the 11th in the morning.

Along with the horses and the orchestra, one of the main characters of the celebration is the Gin. With this dry Gin, they make the Pomada, that is, Gin with Lemonade. A drink that helps you stop being afraid of the crowd and the steps of the horses!

I have also realised that every year there are more and more people, both from the island and abroad, who are against the Jaleo because of the suffering inflicted on the beautiful Menorca horses. I just enjoy the beauty of the celebration, since I think that they are old enough to decide what to do with their horses and their hundred-year-old fiestas.

Menorcan fiestas
Jaleo on Wikipedia (in Catalan)

written by linuxbcn and translated by bisilala

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The original version of this article is written in: Spanish.