The Basque country is waiting for Olenchero
The Basque country is waiting for Olenchero

The Basque country is waiting for Olenchero

(Spain News)

With the approach of Christmas and New Year holidays children are awaiting for gifts from Santa Claus. However, some European countries have their own "Santa Claus", in Austria it is Christkind, in Italy - La Befana - a kind old woman, even though flying on a broomstick, but not a witch. There is a fantastic character, even a tradition, in the northern Spain, the Basque Country. It is Olentzero, which is translated from the Basque language as collier.

Olenchero mines the coal in the mountains, but before Christmas he descends to give gifts to the children. By tradition, on December 24 the Basque television and radio stations broadcast "Olenchero has begun to descend into the valley from the mountains to be in time for distributing Christmas gifts to all children". And on Christmas itself in many Basque towns and cities are organized festive processions, headed by Olenchero himself on a donkey, followed by the sounds of flutes and drums parade, children and adults in their national costumes. By evening, the main square of the settlement are arranged big celebrations, in the center of which is Olenchero with a huge bag of gifts distributing them to the children.

This tradition emerged in the Basque country in the 17-18th centuries. According to the legend, Olenchero who worked in the mountains learned from the angels about the birth of Christ and immediately rushed from the mountains to the valley to bring people the good news. Olenchero himself is a good fat man, a lover of food and drink, with a large black beard, black vest and also a huge black beret. In his spare time he carved from wood wonderful toys and when he came down into the valley to sell coal he distributed them to children.

But during the Franco dictatorship (1939 - 1975) Olenchero was banned as a symbol of regional separatism, and only with its overthrow this good tradition has returned to the Basque land.

Date: 21/12/2010


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