Christmas are coming, important date for many. In many places around the world kids will receive the Christmas Eve from distinguished personalities, like Ded Moroz in Russia or Papa Noel on the other side of the Pyrenees. Here in the Basque Country the one visiting children is the Olentzero.
This character is a charcoal burner that lives in the mountains, some say from the Bidasoa river area, where he makes coal, from where he descends to the towns with his pipe in his mouth, a bag of presents and a wineskin full of wine. It’s been some time that he does all this with Mari Domingi, who is not his wife but his female equivalent. In old times Olentzero was a pagan giant, a symbol of the rebirth after winter, and even nowadays is linked to Christmas he still is a remain of our land’s past.
In Gipuzkoa and the North of Navarra is very common to take him out on Christmas Eve in a palankeen moved by young people, in a pared where traditional songs are sung (usually in Basque). In addition he goes to many schools the previous days to collect the letters of the youngest that write to him, so is not weird to watch him through the streets. If you want to meet him from November he visits Mirandaola, in Legazpi.
So if you come during Christmas and see him, don’t be afraid, Olentzero is a very “jatorra” guy! Here is one of his best known songs for you to sing along with the little ones.