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Folklore and Traditions: Other Fiestas
Taken from "Folklore and Traditions", one of the series of "The Basque Country, Come and then pass the word" 2nd edition, January 1993 Author: Angel Murua, Published by: Gobierno Vasco, Departamento de Comercio, Consuma, y Turismo. Viceconsejeria de Turismo.
As well as the more or less orderly calendar of fiestas and celebrations, the Basque Country also has some which are difficult to categorise or to fit into a definite type of festival, but which are, nonetheless, both interesting and significant.
This is true of the Procession of Drummers ("Tamborrada") of San Sebastian, a short but very intense fiesta which goes from midnight on 19th to midday of 20th January. The first drums start up at the hoisting of the town flag in the first minutes of the twentieth. Right up to the moment when the flag is struck, dozens of perfectly uniformed companies parade through the town streets playing on drums and barrels the marches which Raimundo Sarriegi composed for the occasion. While the adult drummers parade through the various districts of the town, at midday on the twentieth, a rare spectacle can be seen in the centre of town, the music-making of hundreds of children's small, organized drum groups. The arms parades are remeniscent of the municipal milita organised and trained by each village. Nowadays it is the Gipuzkoan towns of Irun and Hondarribia which have the most spectacular military parades. In Irun, the San Marcial Parade on 30th June reunites thousands of uniformed men to fire their rifles in unison on the order of the General. The Hondarribia Parade on 9th September, by way of a vow made to the Virgin of Guadalupe in 1693, commemorates a famous victory of local armed forces. The thunder of the rifle salutes and the smell of gunpowder are once again fundamental ingredients of the fiesta.
The Parade of the "moro" is simpler but charmingly ingenuous. It is held on the third Sunday of July in the small Gipuzkoan community of Antzuola. WIth this parade the villagers remember the legendary victory of a party of local lads over a Moslem squadron in the battle of Valdejunquera. The "Moro", taken prisoner in the fray, is paraded round the village on a donkey, and after haranguing the General of the local troops is forced to surrender (often in faltering Spanish). Once again, the firing of rifles and canons puts a clamourous, smoky end to the fiesta.
The firing of rifles also serves to pay homage to the Virgin of the Rosary, in Elorrio, on the first Sunday of October. The "errebombillos" dressed in the style of ancient marine cadets, complete their tribute by dancing a noble auuresku.
Finally we must recall two fiestas which are very closely connected to the sea. In Hondarribia, on 29th July and 25th August, fishermen walk in a procession from their Fraternity to the Parish Church, accompanied by a young woman carryng a Kutxa (chest) on her head.
Every four years on 7th August, Getaria stages the landing of Elcano, a village man, on his arrival at Sanlucar de Barrameda, some 1,124 days after he set out to realise the first voyage round the world.
Donostia-San Sebastian: Procession of Drummers, 19th January at midnight, Plaza de la Constitucion.
Irun: Arms Parade, 30th June, in the afternoon.
Antzuola: Parade of the Moor, third Sunday of July, in the morning.
Hondarribia: Arms Parade. 9th September. All day. Renewing the offices of the Sea Abbots and Mayors. "Kutxa" Fiesta. 25th July.
Elorrio: Errebombillos Parade and Aurresku Dance. Parade in the morning, Aurresku in the afternoon.
Getaria: Enactment of the landing of Elcano, 6th August, every 4 years, mid-afternoon. (1993).
Vitoria-Gasteiz: Tattoo, 27th.