The ‘Fira de ses Herbes’ is an annual fair held on the second weekend of June inSelva, Mallorca. Selva is a small town situated in the foothills of the Mallorca’s northern mountain range (the Serra de Tramuntanya) and for millennia the people who have lived here have collected and used wild herbs for medicine, cosmetics, cookery, magic and to adorn their festivals.
The fiesta (which begun in the year 2000) is a celebration of the traditional use of herbs in Mallorcan culture. Over the weekend there are exhibitions, tasting of traditional food and drink, conferences, demonstrations and courses around the subject and, on the Sunday, a market selling products related to herbs. The central act of the weekend is the collection of wild myrtle from the mountains, which is then brought into the town in horse drawn carts before being distilled in a huge antique still, in the main town square, in order to make ‘Aigua de Murta’. This myrtle water was used in medieval times as an astringent and antiseptic and was much in demand by pilgrims who travelled through Selva on their way to the famous monastery of Lluc.
The houses, streets and squares of Selva are decorated with herbs, plants and hand-painted banners relating to another important element to the celebration – the ‘Estol de ses Herbes’. This is a group of six characters from traditional Mallorcan folk-tales, each connected to a particular herb – who dance accompanied by Pau and Rosa the Selva giants and the ‘dimonis boiets’ (children dressed as demons). The first dance, at midnight on Saturday, is a ‘correfoc’ – with lots of fire,smoke and explosions. In the second, held on Sunday morning at about 10.30 to welcome in the myrtle, each character does their own dance accompanied by live music.