The pagan origins of the festivals in our village of Ituren are the subject of many anthropological studies and lie at the very core of our village identity. The protagonists of these carnivals (and of several other village festivals during the year) are the Joaldunak (literally, the bell-wearers). The solemn rituals of the Joaldunak, (Guardian report 2018), with their whips, bells and lace petticoats are said to be some of the oldest rituals in Europe.
The Joaldunak can be witnessed on several occasions during the year and - when possible - we join the locals (my neighbours and friends) in these festivals. Midsummer bonfires, Autumn festivals, mushroom hunts and apple-blessing ceremonies all have similar pagan origins and we seize ever opportunity to join in, sampling the local Basque foods, cheeses, ciders and wines, and listening to the Basque music and Bertsolaris (rhyming bards).
Due to the vagaries of village life, fiesta dates do sometimes change, new festivals appear and the ever-changing social calendar is a constant source of surprise!