Balearic traditions and customs

Religions and beliefs

According to polls, in autumn 2021, only 59% of Spaniards recognize themselves as catholic denomination, among whom only 20% attend Mass regularly – and 13.4% attend it every Sunday (i.e. 7.9% of Spaniards). At the same time, 13.6% of them declare themselves to be atheists and 11.2% agnostics and more than one in two rarely sets foot in church, except on the occasion of a wedding. , a baptism, a communion or a funeral. Declaring oneself Catholic does not necessarily mean having faith, but rather being of Catholic culture and conforming to certain rites. All these occasions often remain the best excuse to celebrate: to the many religious holidays are added the various festivals in towns and villages, given in honor of the local patron saint, while Holy Week and its processions put Palma in a state sometimes close to mass hysteria. A hysteria where the joy of living in the moment and an authentic religious fervor mingle. The Balearic Islands are therefore just as Catholic as the peninsula. But that is not their specificity. Nor is it in the fact that a primitive religion, prior to Christianity, would have survived in the islands. It's just a rumor that you might hear, but you won't give any credence to.

On the other hand, one may be surprised to find so many irrational beliefs and superstitions. Some, in Ibiza in particular, are linked to the establishment of hippies and the development of New Age beliefs, often stacking various influences from Eastern, ancient and Christian religions and philosophies (acid and smoke helping for some). A handful of enlightened believe, for example, that Ibiza is at the center of cosmic and "almic" radiation. In the 1980s, the Osho (Bagwan) sect, founded by an exiled Indian guru in Oregon, spread there; in the Balearic Islands, its members were known as Butagaz, because of the orange color of their clothes! They did not disappear and were joined, in particular, by the followers of Sant Mat of Hindu origin (which rented premises in the church of Sant Rafel!) and those of the Nueva Acrópolis, an esoteric movement of Argentinian, half association, half sect, regularly described as neo-fascist...
In the late 2000s and early 2010s, a period of economic and social crisis, several local press articles drew attention to the subject, highlighting how certain sects were taking root under the cover of meditation sessions or yoga, "alternative therapies", "aura reading and cleansing", "dimensional ascensions" or, more contemporary, "DNA repairs"...!

Etiquette and customs

- The familiarity is much more used in Spanish or Catalan than in French. A desire for friendship and sympathy that surprises you when a taxi driver talks to you, for example. It is also a rejection of formalism. We tend to address hierarchical superiors or the elderly. But not always !

- Reminder: in hotels as in restaurants, it is often necessary to add to the advertised prices a tax (IVA), which ranges from 10% (normal) to 12% in certain chic restaurants, and which you will find on the bill. Bread is generally priced as a coperto (covered), served with olives and aioli.

- At the restaurant, as in France, it is then up to you whether or not to leave a tipthe latter being more frequent in chic restaurants than in bars or canteens.

- There are relatively few w.c. publicbut you can quite easily use the toilets in cafes and restaurants.

- Do not visit a church during the prayers and services that take place there.

- Finally, if the strongly concreted seaside places allow almost any freedom, some dress rules common sense applies in the hinterland: it is advisable not to walk around town in bathing suits and to dress decently to visit churches (in particular, women should avoid short skirts and other tank tops - men too, for that matter...).

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