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The dances of the Algaida region - the Cossiers - date from the era of the Christian re-conquest of Majorca and seeing them performed is a major attraction. These are the oldest dances still performed on the island and have a pagan origin, although the Christian church has recognised them and they are now danced during religious festivals.
In times gone by the whole of the island would become involved with the dances of the Cossiers but over the years it has died out and only survives in Algaida, Alaro and Montuiri - where they have again become an important cultural event. The dances are traditionally performed by five men and a girl and, despite their dark pagan origins, have come to represent the triumph of good over evil - particularly in the dance called Titoieta, in which a seventh member joins the group dressed as the devil (El dimoni). This representation of evil tries to thwart the female member of the troupe, who represents good as she tries to direct the dance.
These spectacular dances are largely performed during the fiestas of Algaida’s patron saint, Sant Jaume, on the 24th and 25th of July, and represent an excellent reason for deserting the coast and heading inland to Algaida during the summer months. During the festival, the town square is closed to traffic and the whole town turns out to watch the dancing. The dancers perform a dance as they move throughout the town, until they bow to each other and the watchers applaud. This is the signal for a dancer dressed as the devil to break through the crowd and, with his big stick twirling, chase the youths of the village to the next corner where new dance starts. It is possible that this is the reason for the expression ‘run like the devil’. The festival ends with a spectacular summer night ball on the 26th of July.
If you are visiting Algaida at other times of the year there is still plenty to see and do, such as a visit to the beautiful pilgrimage chapel of Mare de Déu de la Pau de Catellitx, founded in the thirteenth Century. The area around the chapel was the main centre of population until the fifteenth Century, when Algaida became the municipal seat.
The town of Algaida is also home to Gordiola - the oldest glass blowers in Majorca, where one can observe the glass-blowers going about their centuries old trade. Also, a market is held every Friday in the town Plaza, where you can buy local produce and enjoy a proper slice of Mallorcan life.
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