Olentzero (Basque Christmas character)

"Horra, horra, gure Olentzero..."

Oh, the Olentzero, what a rascal! Watching him parade through the streets of Navarrese towns and villages on 24 December is a tradition you just have to see. This friendly charcoal burner, a hefty eater and lover of more than the odd drink, symbolises the time of good things, which begins, precisely, with the winter solstice.

The celebration is held in lots of Navarrese towns and villages, and the parade varies depending where you are. Sometimes the Olentzero is a man dressed up and other times he’s an effigy. He arrives from the mountains to announce the birth of Jesus, sometimes accompanied by Mari Domingi, sometimes by shepherds and their flocks, and sometimes by the zanpantzar with their cowbells announcing his arrival. He’s in charge of leaving Christmas gifts for many Navarrese families before the arrival of the Three Kings.

If you want to experience the most traditional version, then you should head to Lesaka, where it all began. Here, there’s an Olentzero contest on the morning of the 24th and in the afternoon the Olentzero who wins parades through the town with the local band.

Fecha 2024 pendiente

24 dic - 24 dic