Although not a day of extravagant show and customs, its popularity is such that it was quickly reinstated in the holiday calendar when the Spanish government attempted to limit the number of public fiestas. In Mallorca, it is a day of remembrance.
It is the time when Mallorcans tend the graves of their loved ones and decorate them with flowers and lighted candles. It is estimated that in 2007 they bought some 100,000 dozen flowers. At one time children were given rosaries made of enormous sweets by their godparents but this custom is falling into disuse.
It is a tradition in Spanish theatre and therefore equally so in Mallorca, to perform Don Juan Tenorio, written in 1844 by José Zorilla, on and around All Saints Day. This play is, in turn, based on El burlador de Seville y convidado de piedra (The Trickster of Seville and the Stone Guest) by Tirso de Molino, circa 1630, which is believed to be the first written account of the Don Juan legend.
The basis of the tale is the unscrupulous lover who seduces a young girl and kills her father. Returning from exile, he encounters a statue of the father in a cemetery and with a swagger invites him to dine. Whereupon the statue extends a hand to shake his and whisks him away to hell.
The irony in the play is that Don Juan is convinced that a long life lies before him, during which he can behave with impunity until, in impotent old age, he seeks and receives forgiveness from God. Untimely death, no divine absolution, confines him to an eternity in hell.
The legend of Don Juan has been embroidered by many including Molière, Gluck, Mozart, Byron, Pushkin…