Mallorca: The Festivity of Les Verges, St. Ursula’s Eve

| April 3, 2012

On the evening of October 20, the streets fill with groups of young men who take advantage of the ancient tradition of serenading girls to meet, sing and enjoy traditional buñuelos, the local version of doughnuts.

Mallorca The Festivity of Les Verges – St. Ursula’s Eve

Mallorca The Festivity of Les Verges – St. Ursula’s Eve

In the olden days, suitors would court their sweethearts by paying groups of musicians to serenade the maidens, who in turn, would give the musicians bunyols, a traditional type of light doughnut, and sweet wine.

This ancient tradition takes place on the Eve of St. Ursula and the 11,000 Virgins. St. Ursula was daughter of a British prince who was promised in marriage. After making a pilgrimage to Rome, legend has it that she and her retinue of damsels (their number is exaggerated perhaps to underscore the cruelty of the events) went to Cologne, where they found that the Huns had seized the city. The damsels were martyred when they would not consent to the occupiers’ carnal desires.

Nowadays, the celebration has become just one more excuse for young people to have a good time roaming through the streets of villages and towns on the eve of October 20. Some of the most popular celebrations take place in Búger, Marratxí, Porreres, Palma and Alcudia. Municipal bands even join in the fun in some villages. Songs popular with students and gifts of flowers have recently become part of the festivities, in addition to typical buñuelos and sweet wine. There are two main types of buñuelos: one kind is filled with whipped cream, custard or chocolate truffle and the others are made of fried potato dough.

The most traditional bunyols are made out of potato and/or sweet potato. From the days leading up to Santa Ursula and during a good part of the winter, buñuelos can be found at a number of stalls that specialise in this freshly made treat.

More information: www.illesbalears.es

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