Over the last number of years, I have let my understanding of the Spanish language subside, mainly due to not using it. So I decided I would give it one more shot and see where it took me. I recently attended a conversational Spanish class in a busy Dublin city centre. The profesora gave us the challenge of talking about how we usually celebrate Christmas and what traditions we have, and we would present this to the class. All well and good.
Now I need to mention that the profesora has lived in the Basque region of Bilbao for quite some time before moving to Dublin so when it was her time to talk about how she and her family celebrate Christmas, my eyes lit up! There are so many differences to how the Irish celebrate the few days, however, everything is centred around the family. Which is the right way, I suppose.
One of the biggest surprises for me is the Basque tradition of Olentzero –
the equivalent of Santa Claus in the Basque Country. Olentzero lives or lived (depending on what you believe) in the mountains, is a coal miner and descends to town to give presents to the children on Christmas Eve. He smokes a pipe, is normally dressed in traditional costumes and wears a Basque beret. If you are bad, it is believed that you receive a piece of coal from Olentzero. Better than a Playstation 4 so!
In modern celebrations during the Christmas season, children dress in traditional peasant garb and parade through the streets with an adult-sized representation of Olentzero while singing humorous songs written in the mythical figure’s honor. It’s also a fairly common practice to hand out candy and treats to the costumed children, similar to the manner in which Halloween is celebrated.
- Olentzero: The Basque Christmas Figure
- The Legend of Olentzero: A Basque Christmas Tradition
- Olentzero, the Basque Santa
Have you recently walked a Camino? If so, I’d love to hear from you.
Now, I realise that walking all or part of a Camino can be difficult to put into words. It took me a while to process all the thoughts in my head after my first Camino in 2011. What I am ideally looking for is a short synopsis of your Camino – where you walked and for how long, what positives you took from it, and if you had any bad experiences. If you could write about 100 words and include a picture or so, that would be ideal. Maybe you have created a video of your time on the Camino? If so, send me the link and I will post it. I will post your summary so others who may have not walked the Camino will take note. I think it will be very helpful.
Let me know if you are interested in getting involved by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ve 2 weeks left before I fly out…
Yep, 2 weeks! The time is flying by and I have less and less time to get packed, organised and on the plane. I have only managed to find my rucksack, and I have no idea what should go into a blister kit. I’m sure everything will fall into place in the end though.
But help is at hand in the form of various forums and YouTube videos.
One set of videos I have stumbled across during my daily browse on YouTube is from a chap living in Madrid who is walking two Caminos in one; The Camino del Norte and the French Way..over 1000km. Mad eh? At the time of writing he is in or around Leon, where I plan to finish up in June.
So if you are looking at something to watch that is Camino-related, I would recommend clicking the video. Luke has over 20 videos there and they are pretty enjoyable.
His channel is here: http://is.gd/WDHgNN