Category Archives: Basque Fact of the Week

Basque Fact of the Week: Basque Improvisational Poetry

Bertsolaritza, or Basque Improvisational Poetry, is the art of composing, on the spot and impromptu, sung couplets about a given topic. A specific meter and rhyme must be followed. Competitions are held for the best bertsolaris, or singers of of these poems, but bertsolaris are also famous for singing impromptu at any gathering. While the […]

Basque Fact of the Week: Ana María Bidegaray, the Basque Spy

Ana María Bidegaray, born in Hazparne, Laburdi in 1890, provided critical humanitarian aid and worked as a spy in both World War I and II. Raised in Uruguay, she married Raymond Janssen, Consul General of Belgium in Uruguay. Collaborating with the British and French secret services, she used her husband’s diplomatic ties to gain intel […]

Basque Fact of the Week: Hard Apple Cider once Dominated Basque Life

Before wine and beer and soft drinks became popular, before land was devoted to corn, sagardoa, or apple cider, was the drink of the land. This was true up to maybe 100 years ago. Family farms, or baserriak, made cider for family consumption and sagardotegiak, places to drink cider that were the de facto main […]

Basque Fact of the Week: Basque Originally Didn’t Have Separate Words for Blue, Grey and Green

In modern Basque, there are words for blue, grey and green. However, only one of these, urdin, that is native to the language. While today urdin means blue, originally it also encompassed the colors grey and green. Urdin, meaning grey, can be found in several phrases. For example, grey hair and beards are still often […]

Basque Fact of the Week: Basque was only Standardized in the 1970s

The Basque language — Euskara — became standardized in the 1970s. The Basque Language Academy (the Euskaltzaindia) felt that a standard was needed to give the language a better chance of survival against the pressures of languages like French and Spanish. This unified Basque, Euskara Batua, was based on a dialect of Basque from Gipuzkoa. […]

Basque Fact of the Week: Bermeo, not Bilbao, was Originally the Capital of Bizkaia

Bermeo, a town of about 17,000 on the Bizkaia coast, was founded between 1234 and 1239 by Lope Diaz de Haro. Bermeo was the capital of Bizkaia between 1476 and 1602, at which time Bilbao was made the capital of the province. Bermeo’s history begins in 1051, with the monastery of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe […]