On Easter Sunday a curious tradition is held in Ciutadella. It is known as the Matances de Bujots, and consists in hanging up various effigies of well-known figures in the streets which then become the target for marksmen.
Bujot means ‘rag doll’, a pejorative word to indicate someone without any personality. In Ciutadella, the Matances de Bujots (killing of the rag dolls) is the occasion to poke fun at the politicians and make a spectacle of any situation which has come in for criticism.
There is no record as to its origin, although it most probably comes from an ancient custom where they marched a straw doll around the streets of Ciutadella, which they then burnt in the Plaça des Born. A photograph taken in 1883 which hangs in the building of the Cercle Artístic, shows this straw doll being jostled around the town.
Neither is its symbology very clear, although it seems to indicate that it was a festive way to end Lent, a period of darkness and privations.
A straw man to mock
Well before Easter Sunday different entities and associations have their bujot ready, which they guard jealously and do not show until it is hung in the street on the very day. The effigy is a straw man, with a sign wittily explaining the reason for mocking it.
The cartridges which are used are specially prepared in a factory in Maó, and are blanks which have a small amount of gunpowder and a plug. They are fired using hunting rifles with a safety mechanism, and for each straw effigy an average of three hundred shots are fired by four or five marksmen.
The starting time is 12 midday, when a deafening noise begins in Ciutadella and the shots will not finish until the straw effigy is shot down and falls to the ground in flames, which can take around ten minutes.
With this curious tradition, the people of Ciutadella finish Lent purified and safe from bad luck.
More information: www.illesbalears.es
Category: Spain festivals