By Shirley Roberts
Visitors and residents of Majorca know very well how much fiestas and historical celebrations mean to the community. Every Village, Town and City has its celebrations and local people living in other places return for them every year. The ‘Soller Firo’ gained more and more attention every year until the pandemic stopped it for two years. Prior to that it was so popular that wristbands and tickets had to be issued for the final showdown.
So, the huge team of local people organising this year’s event, have a huge responsibility. They need a spectacular, safe return of the Firo. They also have to observe every rule which exists for Covid and the Health and Safety of crowds.
The celebration takes place on Monday May 9th 2022 with other important Firo events on 5th, 6th, 7th ^ 8th May. Firo is the battle on the beaches and the elimination of the pirates on the road to Soller from the Port, via the Pont of Barona. When the final showdown happens in Soller Square there is fighting with ‘good’ emerging triumphant. At this point a rousing rendition of the Balanguera and a determination to do it all again next year. The event remembered here took place in 1561 and was one of many pirate raids on islands in the Mediterranean.
It is hard to explain how much this event means to local people. The traditional costumes for the event are worn proudly from baby sizes to grandparents. Events are measured against the success of this years Firo. Firo is a Bank holiday in the Soller Valley and many political and community decisions are made while so many are in Town for the event. You may hate everything about the battles, the guns, the noise and the mayhem but you still acknowledge its importance in our world.
Back to the events of this year and the Humans of Majorca here are in a tizzy about guns and ammunition. The fact is that in 2020, the regulations governing the use of weapons were amended and it was forbidden for shotguns to be used in festive celebrations.
Many farmers use this weapon on Firó Day and this year, almost 30 participants have already applied to the City Council for the usual permission to use guns. Faced with this situation, the City Council has asked the Government Delegation for permission to carry them. The word on the street is that is likely to be a ’no’. We expect this year will be the first Firó without shotguns, only blunderbusses and shotguns will be used.
Then comes the next problem and that is Gunpowder. The Town Hall have 6 kg in store and they need 40 kg. Anyone know of any quick suppliers of gunpowder?
The City Council usually orders gunpowder in October to be able to have it in May. This year with the uncertainty of whether there would even be Firó it was not ordered. Faced with this situation, the City Council has delegated the Moors and Farmers the task of getting enough gunpowder for the party.
No shotguns, potentially no gunpowder whatever will we do? Laugh actually because the whole story is too peculiar for words. We have a real war on our doorsteps yet we are obsessed with a re-enactment of a marauding horde.
Firo has its own Fira and in the days before the battle we have wonderful, gentle events. The local flower show, full of roses from local gardens, is one. The parade to the Mother of God is another when flowers are brought to the steps of the Church to be woven into a flower sculpture of the Virgin Mary. Then local dancing in all the costumes happens and it is joyous occasion.
The collective work of hundreds of Humans of Majorca creates this annual event and this year the desire is to make everything absolutely glorious. The people of Majorca create their year from the cycle of life, the rhythms of the Catholic Church and commemorative events. They are not tourist or Disneyland productions. Every little detail means something here and is respected for that very reason.
This is a community event and celebrates every part of Soller Valley life. The amount of volunteer hours put in and the dominance of Firo in people’s lives for months before is all given gladly. Tradition and respect for the past is the cornerstone of Valley life for our Humans of Majorca..