Chant of the Sybil on Majorca

Inscribed in 2010 (5.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Country(ies): Spain



Chant of the Sybil on Majorca

The chant of the Sybil is performed at matins on the night of 24 December in churches throughout Majorca. The chant marks the annual Christmas Vigil, and is sung by a boy or girl accompanied by two or more altar boys or girls. During the chant they walk through the church towards the chancel, the singer carrying a sword in his or her hands, held upright in front of the face, while the altar boys or girls carry candles. At the end of the song a cross is drawn in the air with the sword. The versions of the chant performed on the island vary little from their Gregorian roots: each is sung a cappella with music between the verses provided by an organ. The costume worn by the singers usually consists of a white or coloured tunic, sometimes embroidered around the neck and hem, and often worn with a cape. The head is covered with a cap of the same colour as the tunic. The rite involves all the church parishes on Majorca with old and young generations working side-by-side as singers, costume-makers, celebrants and other helpers, thus ensuring its transmission.


Decision 5.COM 6.38

The Committee (…) decides that [this element] satisfies the criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, as follows:

  • R.1: The chant of the Sybil, transmitted by local communities on Majorca from generation to generation, provides them with a strong feeling of identity and pride;
  • R.2: Inscription of the chant of the Sybil on the Representative List could contribute to the visibility and awareness of the intangible cultural heritage worldwide;
  • R.3: Numerous safeguarding measures are proposed, including documentation, research, awareness-raising and transmission, that can help to encourage the appreciation of the Sybil’s value and increase participation by the community;
  • R.4: The element was nominated with the cooperation and commitment of the communities who have given their free, prior and informed consent;
  • R.5: The chant of the Sybil on Majorca is inscribed in the Insular and State Register of Intangible Property of Cultural Interest.



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