The Cossiers perform a traditional Mallorcan dance of unknown origin. Some say it could have been brought to the island by the Catalan settlers and others think it is related to the cult of fertility and agriculture.
The dance is carried out by six men (although the number may vary) dressed in white shirts, brightly coloured skirts and ornaments, hats, and, in each hand, a scarf and a bunch of basil. There is also a lady dressed in white and placed in the centre, as well as a devil, all accompanied by xeremias (a type of Mallorcan bagpipe), flutes and drums.
The lady and the devil stage the opposition between good and evil, the result being good and life triumphing against the "dark forces". Therefore, the dance of the Cossiers is a cult to matriarchy: six men dance around a woman who directs the movements of the rest of the group to defeat the devil. However, for years it was represented by a man for social reasons.
It is believed that the origin of this dance is pagan, but it was later incorporated into Christian celebrations, documented since the 14th century. In the 17th and 18th centuries, each parish respected its Cossiers as a symbol of honour, with the task of representing their people through dance and music. At the time, popular events were rarely held, a fact that resulted in the dispersion of many traditional Cossiers groups. Algaida and Montuiri never lost this tradition, and towns like Palma, Pollensa, Alaró and Manacor have recently recovered it.
To keep with the tradition, the dancers must respect every step. The setting is always the street, the town square or the church, the only place where the devil cannot enter and dance. Anywhere else, the devil enjoys dancing, playing and joking with the public, dressed in sackcloth and a mask with fire symbols.
Dates when you can see the Cossiers:
Algaida, 16th of January, Festivity of Saint Honorato and the 24th and25th of June, Saint Jaime
Montuiri, 15th and 24-25th of August, Festivity of Saint Bartolome
Pollensa, 2nd of August, Patron Saint festivities
Alaró, 16th of August, Saint Roque
Manacor, May Fair
Palma: 31st of December, day of the banner