TRADITION AND FESTIVALS

La inquietud popular recupera y mantiene el folklore y recrea tradiciones, fiestas patronales y romerías. No falta el deporte rural y autóctono, herencia y fruto de una forma de vida ancestral.

Mundaka carnivals

These are singular, unique carnivals, also called Aratuste. Men and women take to the streets. The men, or atorrak, in the morning, wearing a skirt, blouse and white trousers, and a hooded cloak and colourful handkerchief; and the women, or lamiak, in the afternoon, wearing black and with their faces covered in white make-up. The music is another important part because both the atorrak and the lamiak liven things up with enjoyable tunes.

An ancestral tradition in which having fun is obligatory and which is experienced in Mundaka in a devoted manner.

Atorrak Mundaka

Basque dances

The Basque Country has a lot of personality, with customs and traditions that are deeply rooted and a culture with different manifestations, one of which is the Basque dances. These are the essence of our folklore and are present at all our towns’ festivals and important events. Some dances are greetings and bows, while others are inherent to a festive and procession atmosphere.

The oldest references can be found in the 18th century, but over time, many dances have been updated and some have also disappeared. But the tradition remains strong due to Basques’ attachment to their culture, with a rich and eye-catching traditional repertoire: aurresku, Ezpata dantzak, arku dantza, zinta dantza, the dance of the era, carnaval de lantz, fandango, arin-arin, la jota

dantza

Rural sport

This has its origin in the work of the rural environment and in the Basques’ competitive spirit. Work that would usually be done in country houses became challenges between inhabitants or to see who had the greater skill, or who did it more quickly. This is why it is more usual for this tradition to be maintained in towns than in cities.

Cutting down trees, lifting stones, pelota vasca, sokatira, oxen pulling stones, barrenadores, who make holes in stones using a steel bar, scythers, corn cob gathering, regattas… These are sports that require great physical strength and resistance. Among them all, the most popular with the most followers today are the hand ball game and the regattas, with a large number of followers of all ages.

Connected to rural sport is betting. Bets are usually made at different rural sport competitions between the public and those taking part.

feria ganado

Jai Alai – Cesta Punta

A sport famous around the world that is characterised by its skill and speed. In fact, it is the fastest ball sport in the world. It seems a simple game; the ball is thrown with a basket. But the truth is that it requires great skill and strength to play.

It is played on a fronton and Guernica-Lumo is the largest active cesta-punta fronton in the world, a “temple” of cesta-punta built by Secundino Zuazo, author of renowned prestige in contemporary architecture.

Enjoy your own experience as a “puntista” and experience the sensation of the basket on your hand.

EXPERIENCIA JAI ALAI

jai alai

Madalenas

This is celebrated on 22nd July and is a date that all inhabitants of Urdaibai have in their diary. A seafaring tradition festivity that is celebrated jointly by the municipalities of Bermeo, Elantxobe and Mundana, and that has a curious story as its origin.

The Madalenas commemorates an old legal dispute over ownership of Ízaro Island. Legend has it that the municipalities of Bermeo and Mundana swore that each were the owner of the island in a small fishing boat regatta, in which Elantxobe was the arbitrator. Bermeo won and every 22nd July, the mayor of Bermeo throws a tile into the sea while reaffirming possession of the island and proclaiming: “until here come the leaks of Bermeo” (“honaino heltzen dira Bermeoko itxuginak” in Basque).

A festival that begins very early, where the important things are the ambience, music and good humour. Some decide to celebrate in Bermeo and others in Elantxobe, and those with a boat have the good fortune to join the official cortege and enjoy a lively journey. It is also characteristic to dress in blue, with the traditional nankeen dress of our fishermen.

madalena

Last Monday of October

Its title exactly defines the day on which it is held and brings together hundreds of farmers, artisans and livestock farmers from all over the Basque Country. The main streets of the regional city are turned into a great market; the local field workers put their best produce on sale, displayed with care and delicacy. Each year almost 100,000 people attend this show, excited about the possibility to buy quality raw materials and the good atmosphere it creates. The traditional cheese auction generates much curiosity, which reaches unbelievable prices of over 6,000 euros. Bertsolaris, musical entertainment and sport in the afternoon, with cesta punta games on the Jai Alai fronton and hand ball matches, complete the festival day.

Marijesiak

Ancient tradition that is still maintained in several municipalities of Urdaibai and is connected to Christmas. It consists of going out onto the streets to sing in the early morning on the nine days prior to 25th December. They are verses in Basque on the mystery of Christmas and the birth of Christ. Gautegiz Arteaga, Ea, Ibarrangelu, Muxika and Gernika are the towns that preserve this tradition. On many occasions, it is the children who preserve it in exchange for “alms” on the last day of the singing.

In Guernica-Lumo the marijeses choirs enjoy great tradition and expectation. They go out onto the streets at 4 a.m.; adult voices that sweeten the dreams of those sleeping in their homes. What is raised on the last day is always given to the old people’s home.

It is believed that the origin lies in a piece of theatre that over time became street singing.

marijesiak

Night of San Juan

The spell of Urdaibai is felt on this special, different and magical night, on which fire plays an important role to purge all our sins. If we add to all this an idyllic and mystical setting, the Night of San Juan reaches supra-terrestrial levels. Many municipalities of Urdaibai fulfill the rituals inherent to the Night of San Juan to welcome in summer. In Mundaka, at dusk, a passacaglia and the “sorgin dantza” are a prelude to the inevitable end of the witch, her burning in a big bonfire. A night on which fire, the sea and beautiful Mundaka fuse to create an atmosphere of spirituality. This night of San Juan is also experienced in Bermeo with devotion. The atmosphere starts to heat up from the afternoon, with a passacaglia through the main streets until it reaches Goiko Square, where dances and canticles can be heard prior to the lighting of the bonfire. The next day, the festivity of the saint moves to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, with the pilgrimage to the singular hermitage, where several masses are held from very early in the morning and where many come to fulfill promises made or to give thanks to the saint.

Hoguera de San Juan