Thursday, December 11, 2008

Olentzero in Boise

This article comes to us courtesy of EITb:

Ancient tradition

Olentzero arrives at Boise's Basque center

Dozens of children met in the Basque center in downtown Boise on Sunday afternoon to meet the Basque Christmas character Olentzero and receive their Christmas presents.

Basque mythical character Olentzero arrived at a crowded Basque center in dowtown Boise for the Euzkaldunak Children's Christmas Party on Sunday afternoon.

Immediately after dozens of children heard the story of Olentzero, narrated by Basque professor Nere Lete and sang "Olentzero begi gorri", led by Nere's husband, John Bieter, Olentzero came into the great hall of the Basque center, sitting on a chair carried by his four assistants.

Once there, he talked to all the children in the Basque Center and handed out presents.

Undoubtedly, Olentzero, a Christmas tradition most deeply rooted in the Basque Country, is the equivalent to Santa Claus or Father Christmas in other Western cultures.

There are many variations to the Olentzero traditions and stories connected to him, sometimes varying from village to village. In most of them, Olentzero is a coal man who comes down from the mountains to hand out chestnuts and wine, and of course, presents for the little ones.

This mythical character has a big head, a large belly and, according to local traditions, is capable of drinking ten "arrobas" (one arroba is about twenty-five pounds in weight) of wine.

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