Basque dances occupy a key place in Basque culture and local traditions, so they should be added to the overall picture of country games and pelota courts. Each province stages its own dances, which are generally danced during the festivals in honour of the patron saints, as a sign of respect and of the unity of the Basque people. The origin of many of the dances is a mystery.
Basque strongman games (or country games)
Basque games of strength, based on activities linked to farm life, allowed farmers to test their physical capabilities and their endurance.
Today, 16 disciplines are officially recognised. Some of the more popular ones are :
- Soka-tira (the Basque version of tug-of-war): The team that tugs their adversary for more than 4 m wins.
- Harrijasoketa (stone-lifting): It is a matter of lifting the heavist possible stone, sometimes with repetitions. The stones can be cylindrical, round, rectangular and even cube-shaped.
- Zaku lasterketa (sack race): The racers must cover 120 m with an 80 Kg sack of corn on their backs as quickly as possible.
- Aizkolaritza (woodcutters): Standing on tree trunks, the woodcutters must cut a precise number of logs with an ax, as quickly as possible.
- Lasto Altxari: This game symbolises the job of storing straw. On traditional Basque farms, lofts were used to store the harvest. The game consists in pulling on a rope to lift a 45 Kg bundle of hay as many times as possible in two minutes.
Strongman games are very spectacular. Many of them are held in summer, when more visitors can enjoy them. Tickets are available on-site and pre-sale at the Tourist Office.
The Basque Country gastronomy
It's full of culinary specialties that are passed on from one generation to the next. There is a choice for every palate !
Warning for all foodies : tapas, grilled fish, beef chops... make your choice.
On egin (which is how we say bon appétit in Basque) !