The Gegants i Capgrossos (giants and big-heads) form part of the festive tradition all over Spain, especially in Menorca and Mallorca, where these enormous figures play an important role in the popular festivals.
The history of these figures has not been without adversity. The earliest reference to the Gegants i Capgrossos dates back to 1630 and is located in Sóller. Apparently they were acquired by the town council, where they were used to liven up the Corpus Christi processions.
A century later, in 1734, the Palma City Council adopted the same idea when they bought the first four pairs of giants, which symbolised the different continents in the world. But the suspicion and opposition of the church hierarchy led to their disappearance shortly after.
New liberal changes emerged at the beginning of the 20th Century, and Palma recovered these figures. It was at that time that the gegants Tòfol and Francinaina were created, the legendary pair of pageses or country folk who today stand guard at the entrance of Palma City Hall in the Plaça de Cort.
Actually, the ones you can see today are not the real ones, but rather a reproduction made in the early 1970s. In 1936 this pair of gegants travelled to Barcelona to take part in the Universal Exhibition, but the outbreak of the Spanish civil war prevented their return and since then, nobody knows about their whereabouts.
Very traditional figures
All this history behind them makes them figures of great popular tradition in the islands. In fact, since 1998 a Trobada de Gegants (Giants Festival) has been held in Palma with the participation of giants and big-heads from all over the islands and elsewhere.
During the festivals, they are brought out into the streets and participate in the people’s festivities from their enormous height and wearing their curious traditional dress. One pair which is always present is that formed by the xeremiers and the flabiolets who provide the music. The former play a type of bagpipes (xeremia) and the latter the flute.
There are various associations dedicated to the Gegants i Capgrossos in Menorca and Mallorca.
More information: www.illesbalears.es
Category: Spain festivals