With the past few days full of moving, I took the opportunity to reward myself with a day of fiesta! On Thursday, in the town of Zarautz (about 30 minutes by train from San Sebastian) there was a huge party called Euskal Jaiak - which means Basque Celebration in Euskera. Although it is a 'national' holiday in Basque Country , it is only really celebrated with a big bang in Zarautz. Celebrations happen thorughout the whole week, but September 9th is always the most important - as it is idedicated to Our Lady Aranzazu. Originally just this feast to thier lady in 1924, the city of Zarautz figured that if they made the holiday a weeklong thing that more tourists would stay at the beachside resort long, and it worked. It has since been celebrated with gusto.
A friend of mine, Nerea (who will soon be my roommate in our apartment) is from Zarautz and invited me to celebrate the day with her and her friends. On top of that, she offered to lend me a typical Basque costume for the event. On Basque days like this, everyone dresses up in tradtional Basque farm clothes, a peasant looking type of dress.
The costume, called a baserritarra, used to be the daily dress of Basques - with of course differences between the outfits of the fishermen, farmers, tradesmen, etc. When Franco took power in Spain he did his best to squash out all parts of Basque culture - from language to clothing. Only after he left did the Basques manage to revive thier rich culture and were allowed again to wear these traditional costumes.
As you can see in the photo - we are all wearing skirts, but not just one oh no! I am wearing an underskirt (kind of like a long cotton slip) with some ribbon detail. On top of that, a dark skirt with tiny white polka-dots, and on top of that, a little black apron. On the top, normally you wear a long sleeve cotton shirt that matches the second skirt you have on. Since it was so hot in the afternoon, we just had on t-shirts, but later on I sported the warmer top. And of course, we can't forget the 'pañuelo', which is a little scarf you tie around your neck.
To celebrate the day, everyone young and old, gathers in the streets and bars and parties all day. They take breaks for little sandwiches with chistorra (a type of sausage) or other delicious fillings and they make sure to drink a hefty amount. Some people even go as far as taking carts from the grocerty store and decorate them and fill them up with bottles of cider, txakoli (a Basque wine) and beer. We didn't go that far, but did walk around with a bottle of cold cider and plastic glasses. Between the music blaring from teh bars, we were also able to hear some traditional Basque music, accompanied by Basque dances. The costumes for the dancers are usually different then our street outfits however.
While I have been to typical Basque fiestas like this in San Sebastian (although this was the first time I was wearing the costume), I really enjoyed the outdoor celebration in Zarautz because it took place right next to the beach. This town, also known for its surfing, has a long, narrow beach and at the edge of the sand is an equally long wide sidewalk for strolling along the water (this promenade is named the Malecon). However, when the tide is up, there is actually no beach and the promenade falls right into the beach. So, while drinking our cider, we were able to watch waves splashing a few feet from us, and with the sunny weather it was perfect party atmosphere.
While the party goes on all night, I had to take the train back at 10pm. But, the few hours of Euskal Jaiak I got to enjoy were great, and now with a costume available, I am already looking forward to the next Basque festival!