A character in the Basque Christmas tradition, the mythical figure of Olentzero varies in stories from village to village. Commonly, he is said to have been the last of the jentillak, an ancient community of Basque giants that lived in the Pyrenees. Tales of Olentzero have been passed down in the region for ages, but in recent decades he has become a much more jolly embodiment of festive good cheer; the bringer of gifts to children with an enormous appetite and matching belly. However, instead of a stocking cap, red suit, and black boots he wears a Basque beret, farmer's attire, and traditional arbaketa shoes. Stylish, to be sure.
On Christmas Eve a procession makes it's way through the streets of San Sebastián, choirs singing his story. Olentzero himself makes an appearance to share sweets with all and, perhaps most importantly, accept children's requests for gifts. It's always good to have the opportunity to submit your Christmas wish to the man directly.
Learn more about Olentzero from the Basque Tourism Organization.
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