Carnival time in the Basque Country

22 02 2010

This was a land of pagans in the old times, and was christianized late compared to other territories. It´s also a very mountainous land and full of (formerly) isolated valleys – one of the reasons for the seven varieties of Basque language in such a tiny territory -. Thus, there are a wide variety of rituals specific to one area only, even one town, that make this country so attractive and misterious in many ways.

One of the rituals most celebrated (as in many places around the world) is Carnival (Inauteria or Aratuste, in Basque). There are some traditional and very picturesque ones, like those celebrated in Tolosa, Lesaka, Mundaka, Ituren and Zubieta (video of the carnival at Ituren) or those in Lantz (Navarre), accompanied by a variety of mythological characters (Ziripot, Miel-Otxin, Markitos, etc) . www.tu.tv/videos/carnaval-de-lantz-baile for a sample of the carnival at Lantz.

Many other towns celebrate their pagan rituals during carnival time, but I wanted to show you those above as quite peculiar and very linked to our land.


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8 01 2013
Lazaro Estrada

These two neighbouring towns in the area of Malerreka, to the south of the Bidasoa valley, pre-empt the official carnival dates and hold a unique carnival during the last week of January. The central act consists of processions of the Zanpantzar along the streets of Ituren on Monday and those of Zubieta on Tuesday. The Zanpantzar, a company of Ioaldunak (cowbells) involving the residents of both towns, parade the streets costumed in sandals, lace petticoats, sheepskins around the waist and shoulders, coloured neckerchiefs, conical caps with ribbons and a hyssop of horsehair in their right hands. You’ll be deafened by the rhythmic din of the huge cowbells attached to the lower backs of the members of the cortege, which clang in unison with the rhythmic movements as they walk.

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