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Events

Olentzero

Olentzero

Olentzero is the responsible for announcing Christmas time in Euskadi. He is a humble man who shares out sweets amongst the children who approach him to give him their letters on Christmas Eve, as well as presents in the night of December 24th. That day, many choirs walk through the streets in the evening singing the story of Olentzero and collect money. The group carries an Olentzero dummy or a man who dresses in the charcoal burner's clothes. When the night falls, the dummy is set on fire.

In Bilbao you can see the Olentzero procession on 23rd December, starting out from the Plaza Moyúa and ending at the Arriaga theatre. On the morning of Saturday 24th December the Olentzero will be waiting for all the children at the Arriaga theatre.

In Vitoria-Gasteiz and San Sebastián the Olentzero procession takes place on 24th December.

Popular songs describe Olentzero as a rascal and a kind person. Pre-Christian pagan tradition says that the winter solstice and fire are closely related. In its origins, Olentzero was a Christmas log by the fireplace. On the following day, ashes were spread out before the dwelling entrance in order to protect the house and its dwellers throughout the year.

According to Basque legends, a tribe of giants (gentiles) came down from the mountains to announce the birth of Kixmi (the name they gave to Christ). Olentzero took the shape of a charcoal burner combining the mythological element with the fire and the log. He confirmed the birth of Christ while he was working on the mountains and came down to tell the good news.

In the 20th century Olentzero was added another feature that also shared Santa Claus and The Three Wise Men. He started bringing presents for children at Christmas.

Olentzero has his own farmhouse, Izenaduba Basoa, near the Uriguen Park, Mungia. It is one of the most ancient farmhouses of Euskadi and nowadays it is allowed to visit it. Throughout the year the visitors will have the possibility to observe the Basque legend.
Date: 24/12/2017 - 06/01/2018
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