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Carnivals kick off in the Basque Country
The carnivals held in the villages of Ituren and Zubieta, among the most popular carnivals in the Basque Country, mark the beginning of the celebration of carnivals.
Carnivals in the Navarre towns of Ituren and Zubieta marked on Monday the beginning of the Carnival celebrations in the Basque Country.
The first Monday after the last Sunday of January about twenty men or “ioaldunak” from Zubieta, an small town in the heart of Navarre, gather in the square of Zubieta, near the pilota court.
Dressed in Basque traditional footwear, petticoats and wool lined coats, carrying huge cowbells on their backs and hispos (a kind of magic wand made with mane) in their hands, go to the neighbouring Ituren led by a man.
This man keeps the pace of the march and the rhythm of the cowbells’ music which sound thanks to the rhythmical movements of the “ioaldunak”.
Halfway to Ituren, the zanpantzarrak from Ituren meet the zanpantzarrak from Zubieta, go together to Ituren and march through the streets of Ituren.
The next day, the zanpantzarrak from Ituren are the ones who do the same think. Dressed in the same way, half way to Zubieta they are met by the zanpantzarrak from this village and march through their streets.
This ritual tradition is closely related to nature. It is said that the sound by the cowbells and the shaking of the hispos scares away the bad spirits.
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