Lloret's main annual festival
On 24th July, Lloret de Mar celebrates its Main Festival, in honour of its patron saint, Santa Cristina. Various shows and events take place, such as the procession to the chapel of Santa Cristina, the Square Dance or the S'amorra Amorra regatta at Santa Cristina beach.
However, the procession became very difficult for many of the faithful because they had to walk along poor paths and cross three torrents – Riufret, Sa Riera d'en Passapera and Sa Riera d'en Carrabana – which were difficult to cross when it rained. Faced with these difficulties and to make the pilgrimage of the faithful easier, the representatives of the people went to the competent authorities to seek the corresponding permissions to follow the route by sea (not the procession itself because this is actually interrupted at Lloret beach and starts again at Santa Cristina beach). It is said that they had to overcome many difficulties to obtain permission to do this and, finally, it was necessary to go to Rome for it. The Santa Cristina Maritime Procession is held on 24 July.
Following this tradition, the dance continued in the same place until 1970, when it moved, to be danced in front of the Town Hall, the headquarters of the modern authorities. In fact, the council sits in the front row, in the square, and receives the homage of the dancers.
Although the music – which used to be more extensive – seems to come from the last century, or the 18th century at the very oldest, the dance has roots going back much further, with an undoubted Arab origin, as can be seen with the use of a glass jar with four handles, called an almorratxa, which the male dancers carry full of perfumed water and offer to their female partner.
The story goes that, in the days when the Catalan coast was often attacked by the Moors, a rich Muslim potentate arrived in Lloret. On seeing the traditional dance, he lost his heart to the beauty of a young Lloret girl and was determined to dance it. As proof of his affection, he offered her the almorratxa, full of perfume. The damsel, who preferred to remain faithful to her people and her religion, refused the Muslim and threw the almorratxa on the ground.
It used to be danced on 24, 25 and 26 July - every day of the main festival; it was danced by the serving Obrers, wearing top hat and tails, despite the age difference with their female counterparts.
The Almorratxa Dance is now danced on 24 and 26 July, the first and third days of the festival. When they finish the dance, the four girls – recalling the episode of the Muslim and the Christian girl – take the almorratxa, go to the centre of the square and throw it on the ground. It is said that if the almorratxa breaks – something which almost always happens – the girl will marry during the following year. The event ends with festive music, very different from the music played before, known by the name of "Toquen a córrer".
Josep Galceran tells us that, on reaching Santa Cristina beach, the boats arrange themselves in parallel straight lines and, meanwhile, the "Capitana" advances to recognise the catches, returning to occupy her place between the town council's llagut and that of "Ses Obreres". The admiral shouts "Now!" and, at the sound of the music, the race to the sand of Santa Cristina beach begins.