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Santa Agueda songs heard all over the Basque Country
Santa Agueda festivity is celebrated on February 4th , and it is a tradition for Basques to dress in the traditional clothes and carry a streetlight and a “makila” to mark the time while they sing Santa Agueda’s song.
Thousands of Basques will sing today Santa Agueda’s song, a tradition that comes back from ancient times in honour to one of most highly venerated virgin martyrs of Christian antiquity.
Santa Agueda was put to death for her steadfast profession of faith in Catania, Sicily. Although it is uncertain in which persecution this took place, we may accept, as probably based on ancient tradition, the evidence of her legendary life, composed at a later date, to the effect that her martyrdom occurred during the persecution of Decius (250-253).
Santa Agueda festivity is celebrated on February 4th at night, and it is a tradition for Basques to dress in the Basque traditional clothes –“txapela” beret, navy blue shirt- and carry a streetlight and a “makila” –thick stick- to mark the time while they sing Santa Agueda’s song. The chorus varies depending on the place.
In ancient times only males under 14 were allowed to sing all together Santa Agueda. In the 60’s they would sing along the streets and beg money for “ikastolas” –Basque schools-, politics’ prisoners, charity, and so on. Nowadays different-age people sing all together along the Basque streets collecting money for charity purposes.
According to historian Jose Maria Uranga the tradition has its origin in Bizkaia, although it also achieved certain roots in the bordering towns of Gipuzkoa.
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