Basque ethnography at a glance


Painting by José Arrue. Source: Felix Mugurutza.

All Souls Day was t the main date to honour the departed in Basque traditions until half a century ago and was celebrated on 2 November. Conversely, its eve, All Saints Day on 1 November, was a time of religious services and little else.

Incidentally, the night of the souls – much vaunted to “disguise” the imported Halloween – is in reality the night between 1 and 2 November and not the previous one.

Yet… Where did all this confusion come from? (more…)

Stick dance at Herrín de Campos. Source: Labrit Ondarea.

When we think of intangible cultural heritage (ICH) – and, above all, when we try to explain exactly what it means – we tend to resort to its more spectacular or iconic expressions: festivities, commemorative and traditional representations, music, bertsolarismo [improvised poetry in Basque], dance, sport, crafts…

We are now adding the gender value to the intangible variable associated to that cultural heritage (even though it can and is usually based on tangible elements).


This evening Ostu-ostuka eta txopinka will be screened at the Altamira Cultural Centre, as part of the European Heritage Days. This documentary features the traditional children’s games of this coastal town, based on the oral testimonies from local people from across the generations.

Despite the passing of the years, many of the childhood memories of our informants are directly related to playing: all those walks to Atxapunta, all that laughter, all those stories… Childhood friendships are often lifelong, because the ties of childhood are very strong.


Emilio Andueza. Lakuntza. Photo credit: Josu Larrinaga Zugadi.

Any research into the traditional culture using the methodological groundwork of social and humanistic disciplines pivots on data sources (written, images, observations and oral information). Obviously, oral data need people and their testimony, whose stubborn regularity allows the researcher to use complex qualitative analysis to reach scholarly conclusions. Invaluable collective scholarly knowledge that can address such a wide range of areas as festive celebrations, dances, music, singing, musical instrument, apparel, culinary heritage, rituals, trades or work, etc.