Category Archives: Basque Fact of the Week

Basque Fact of the Week: The Massacre of La Hoya

For over 1000 years, the village of La Hoya grew and evolved, becoming a flourishing trade center. Then, suddenly, about 2200 years ago, it ceased to exist, completely obliterated. Thanks to the efforts of scientists from the University of Oxford, the National Center for Scientific Research in France, Arkikus, and the Alava Institute of Archeology […]

Basque Fact of the Week: Jose Mari Iparragirre, the Man Behind The Tree of Gernika

Soldier. Poet. Singer. Composer. Romanticist. Jose Mari Iparragirre was all of those things and more. A man out of time, he enjoyed great success and renown but never found a place he truly belonged. Even so, his most famous song, Gernikako Arbola, inspired generations of Basques. Iparragirre was born on August 12, 1820, in the […]

Basque Fact of the Week: Mikel Jokin Eleizegi Arteaga, the Basque Giant

Men and women who are exceptionally tall, who stand out in a crowd, who literally tower over the rest of us, certainly draw our attention. They fascinate us. Often, they become entertainers — André the Giant parlayed his size first in professional wrestling and then acting. Today, people of unusual height, particularly in basketball, use […]

Basque Fact of the Week: Basque Peppers

I hate peppers. They smell nasty when they are cooking and they taste vile. My dad had literally hundreds of pepper plants in his garden. He would always give me a hard time when I ate his homemade chorizo, which I loved, saying how could I like those when they had peppers in them? When […]

Basque Fact of the Week: The Lauburu

It’s perhaps the most iconic Basque symbol. The lauburu — literally four-heads. This curvilinear swastika is ubiquitous in the Basque Country, appearing on store fronts, tombstones, the doorways to baserri, and, now, masks protecting us from COVID-19. If someone wants a Basque-themed tattoo, they often turn to the lauburu for inspiration. But, where does this […]

Basque Fact of the Week: Basque Clothing through the Ages

One of the very distinctive elements of any Basque festival is the dancing and, in particular, the costumes the dancers wear — the white shirt and pants, adorned with a bright sash and txapela for the men and the white blouse and black vest atop a bright red skirt and black apron with leather shoes […]

Basque Fact of the Week: The Aquitanians, Ancestors of the Basques

The Basque language is what is called an isolate — it has no known living relatives. Contrast that with the other languages of Europe, almost all of which are Indo-European languages, and you can see why Basque has attracted so much attention from linguists. However, just because the Basque language has no living relatives doesn’t […]

Basque Fact of the Week: The Conquest of the Americas

The Basques have always been known for their adventurous spirit. Their search for fishing grounds took them to Iceland and beyond, reaching the coast of what would become Canada, where they established whale processing sites and developed a pidgin with the local Native Americans (and the Icelanders too). However, they also played a big role […]

Basque Fact of the Week: The Prince of Wales Nearly Became the Lord of Bizkaia

Looking back at the history of Europe, it is amazing how what we view today as solid political borders and national identities often grew out of random happenstance. If Joan of England had made it to Castile to wed Peter the Cruel, instead of succumbing to the Black Death at the age of fourteen, how […]

Basque Fact of the Week: The Gernika Battalion

In collaboration with Pedro Oiarzabal and the Sancho de Beurko Association, I’ve been translating some of their articles in the Fighting Basques series. These articles summarize their research into the contributions of Basques during World War II, often focusing on the role of Basque-Americans. One of the most distinguished contributions came from the Gernika Battalion, […]