buffs. November has come in with a quiet roar, reminding us that winter cannot
be held at bay forever. The temperatures have dropped and a tramuntana
has begun to chisel a hard edge on the wind. There's that unmistakable nip in
the air that always conjures up images of Sant Carles, the first of the 'winter'
the Ibicenco habit of dividing the year into simple blocks of summer and winter
most certainly has its roots in old Celtic custom. In their fascinating book,
A History of Pagan Europe, Prudence Jones and Nigel Penick explain that:
Gaul and Ireland the year was divided basically into two halves: winter and
summer. The winter half was the beginning of the year, starting at Samhain (1 November). This was the most important festival of the
year, showing the pastoralist, rather than agricultural origin of [their] calendar.
Samhain was the end of the grazing
season, when flocks and herds were collected together and only the breeding
stock set aside from slaughter . . . . The second great festival of the year was Beltane or Cétshamhain (1
May, May Day)."
information is not altogether applicable to Ibiza, there are some interesting
correlations. The primary similarity is that 1st November has traditionally
marked the beginning of matança season
in the Pitiuses. (See Kirk's articles for a full account of this ancient ritual).
Before this date, the weather was simply not cool enough to insure that the
meat would stay fresh. After all the hard work and planning entailed in a matança,
pagesos were reluctant to undertake the proceedings until the reliable
chilliness of November had set in. Today, with refrigerators to aid in preservation,
bringing the slaughter forward by a week or two is not such risky business.
But in yesteryear, the sausages made on the day of matança
had to carry a family through the long, lean winter. To have this important
food source spoilt by warm weather would have meant certain hunger in the months
the standard assumption that Ibicencos divvy up the year according to the touristic
seasons stands to be corrected. The tourist season (which does in fact begin
in early May and end in late October) is perhaps a convenient modern overlay
on an ancient nature-venerating society. I've always maintained that, despite
its veneer of Christianity, Ibiza has a pagan heart - what with well-dancing,
moon worship, slaughter rituals and a whole host of practices that Kirk will,
no doubt regale us with in upcoming articles.
digressing here. Our subject today is Sant Carles, a village that represents
much more than island's passage into winter. From the 13th to the
18th century, Sant Carles was the central hub of a knight's demesne.
This Catalonian knight was called Diego de Perlata and, on the merits of his
excellent service to King Jaime the Conqueror, he was awarded a territory that
took in present-day Sant Carles, Sant Joan and Cala Sant Vicente. The area was
called simply 'Peralta' and fell within the larger quartón
del rei, which encompassed the whole Northeast corner of the island and
belonged to the Conqueror's son, Jaime II, King of Majorca.
a horse and was in charge of things like letting out land to farmers and then
collecting 10% of the annual yield, much the way any lord would. Being a landlord
in those hard luck days, however, was not exactly a going concern. The families
that chose to settle in post-Conquest Ibiza were few and far between. Island
historian Joan Marí Cardona estimates that during the 13th and 14th
centuries only about thirty families lived in the whole of Peralta. The bulk
of the population settled around what we today think of as the village of Sant
Carles (because there was a well), with farms becoming progressively sparser
to the north as the land became steeper, craggier and harder to farm. Probably
only two or three brave families lived in Cala Sant Vicente prior to the 17th
let by these early pagesos, and the
taxes paid on them, were small business matters for one so noble as a knight.
They were matters that could easily be done by factors or lieutenants or lawyers.
Therefore, to what extent Diego de Peralta actually resided in Ibiza and to
what extent he continued seeking adventure through knight errantry on the peninsula
remains a matter of conjecture. The fact is that, over the centuries, his demesne
was handed down to native Ibicencos and ended up in the hands of the Juan family
(Juan being a surname in this case) who collected taxes and laid down the law
in Peralta until Abad y Lasierra came along in 1785. The bishop, as we all know,
divided the island into small parishes, all under the control of the local government
and the Church.
do not record the sentiments of the diminished Juan family, but they could not
have been very pleased with this turn of events, which they probably saw as
note is that all of the people of Sant Carles de Peralta were in agreement on
the location of their new church. "It was such a lovely spot, how could
they not accept the episcopal decision?" rationalizes Don Joan. "Funnily,
no records were kept of the proceedings and we do not know the exact date the
church was finished. But we can assume it was some time before the turn of the
century, like the rest of the trouble-free churches."
Abad y Lasierra chose St. Charles as the patron saint, one of the few
patrons who was not a Biblical figure, but rather a 16th century
archbishop. What I'd like to know
is what the popular reaction was when they found out their fiesta would be in
you next week when we'll take a look at Santa Gertrudis.