Tag Archives: christmas

Basque Fact of the Week: Fire and Flame in Basque Culture

Perhaps one of the most defining things that separate humans from the rest of the animal world is our command of fire. Fire is essential to who we are and how we have developed as a species. Indeed, it has been suggested that our taming of fire, and our development of cooking, is what let […]

Basque Fact of the Week: Mari Domingi, Olentzero’s Companion

These days, Olentzero, the Basque “Santa Claus” who brings gifts to children during Christmas, is reasonably well recognized in the Basque diaspora. He not only visits children in Euskal Herria, but can often be found in Basque clubs in the United States, South America, and elsewhere. Even the New Mexico Euskal Etxea, back when it […]

Fighting Basques: Basques in the Last Christmas of the War: The Battle of the Bulge

This article originally appeared in Spanish at El Diario on January 16, 2020. On December 14, 1944, two days before a large-scale German offensive began in the Ardennes and just four days after his 33rd birthday, the Basque-Californian soldier Alfred Starr Etcheverry wrote what would be his last letter to his wife Marion Hazard and […]

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: Olentzero, the Basque Santa Claus

In almost any Basque-themed celebration of Christmas, instead of Santa Claus, a very distinct figure appears, wearing not a bright red suit trimmed in white but rather a more mundane outfit, often a blue or black shirt with blue pants topped off with a black beret. In modern times, he is portrayed as a joyful […]

Marraskiloak: Christmas Snails

My wife sent me this interesting article about the migration of snails to Ireland. The article, which summaries this study in PLOS ONE, concludes that a specific species of snails made its way from the Eastern Pyrenees to Ireland maybe 8000 years ago. Granted, today, the eastern part of the Pyrenees is not Basque — […]