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Caramelles, or what Christmas carols were like when there were no Christmas carols

It seems impossible to imagine a Christmas without Christmas carols, or at least, not as we know them now.

It seems impossible to imagine a Christmas without Christmas carols, or at least, not as we know them now. However, just as it is not unusual to come across a copy of these traditional and modern songbooks at Christmas anywhere in the world, on Ibiza you are very likely to find a sample of Caramelles.

These are, without a doubt, one of the oldest rites in Ibiza’s folk culture. They are ancestral songs, whose origins date back to the Middle Ages and which describe the birth of Jesus Christ, accompanied by a drum, a spasí (a metal sword used as a percussion instrument), a flaüta (the typical wooden flute of the island) and castanets.

Because of its religious nature, it is normal for every parish on the island to offer the opportunity to hear a sample of this music at least once during the Christmas season. Although there are variants, the lyrics are based on ancient biblical texts, which have been passed down orally from generation to generation, and which today some scholars of Ibizan music and culture have collected, unified and promoted, through local folklore groups.

For all these reasons, in 2005 the Consell Insular d’Eivissa (Ibiza Island Council) promoted their declaration as an Intangible Asset of Cultural Interest, which meant that the aforementioned institution was then responsible for recording and disseminating these traditional songs.