Category Archives: Folklore

Basque Fact of the Week: Teodosio, the Knight of Goñi

Many rulers try to legitimatize their power by establishing connections to heroes and legends of the past, sometimes all the way to divine figures. The same has occurred in Basque history. In an effort to connect their lineage to an important mythical figure, the Kings of Nafarroa established a genealogy that connected them to Teodosio […]

Basque Fact of the Week: Akerbeltz

Many of the figures in Basque mythology are shrouded in mystery, their true natures lost to the mists of time. Whatever role they played in the original Basque religion, their character became confused and contorted with the advent of Christianity. The black he-goat – the Akerbeltz – is a prime example. While he was originally […]

Basque Fact of the Week: The Basajaunak, the Wild Lords of the Forest

Basque mythology is full of colorful characters and beings. With the dense forests that cover the imposing mountains rising from the sea, it should come as no surprise that the mythology features beings that dwell in those forest and are closely connected to nature. However, the Basajaunak — the wild lords of the forest — […]

Basque Fact of the Week: Caves and Caverns of the Basque Country

We often associate prehistory with caves, with literal cavemen and cavewomen who sought shelter from the elements and predators within the safety of chasms and grottos. The Basque Country, a place where mountains meet the sea, is full of caves, caverns, and subterranean tunnels. These natural shelters have played a huge role in the history, […]

Basque Fact of the Week: San Martin Txiki, the Basque Trickster

Lots of stories describe how humans discovered the elements of civilization. We have fire because Prometheus was able to steal it from the gods. And such stories about the theft of fire are particularly common, with Rabbit or Coyote stealing fire in the Americas, Prometheus stealing it for the Greeks, and Pkharmat of the Vainakh […]

Basque Fact of the Week: Gabonzuzi, The Basque Yule Log

A lot of our Christmas traditions grew out of pre-Christian practices and beliefs, often arising from celebrations of the Winter Solstice. The idea of Christmas carols – of going from house-to-house singing songs – stems from Yule Singing or Wassailing. Mistletoe came from Celtic beliefs that associated it with male fertility. In fact, the whole […]

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: Aztikeria, Basque Magic

Humans have always had a contentious relationship with nature. We’ve always sought to control the world around us. Today, science and technology allow us to manipulate the very atoms that literally make up everything. However, it wasn’t so long ago that people turned to other ways of trying to bend the cosmos to their will, […]

Basque Fact of the Week: The Summer Solstice

The summer solstice, being the longest day of the year, is an important event in many cultures, marking the changing of seasons. Because of its importance, elaborate rituals and rites have arisen around this date all around around the globe, and the Basque Country is no exception. Many of the pre-Christian elements have been confused […]