‘Tis the season to sing and be jolly, and the Basques are no exception to this Christmas tradition. Typical songs include “Hator, Hator,” and “Olentzero,” among many others.
Check out this swing version of “Hator, Hator” by the DND (Déu n’hi do!) Swing Band, a Basque-Catalan group based in Vitoria-Gasteiz. This version is sung in both Basque and English!
Next on our list is the now classic 2007 EiTB Christmas commercial, featuring “Olentzero” sung by a multi-cultural cast in many different locations.
The oldest known carol in Basque dates from 1705: “Tono al Nazimiento de Nustro Señor Jesucrito,” by Juan Tellería, at the Laurgain Palace in Zarautz (Gipuzkoa). Although it is unclear when this tradition began in the Basque Country, it is thought that churches in Bilbao and Donostia-San Sebastian were at the fore. For more information, check out this great article by the Auñamendi Eusko Entziklopedia, (in Spanish).
Carols by Martín de Oarabeitia, 1775
If you’re interested in learning some gabon-kantak, visit the website www.txantxangorria.eus, where you can find karaoke versions of many classics, as well as 1,790 Basque songs in general! The website was created by Gabi de la Maza, a Basque teacher, who began making videos for his students. For more information about the website, be sure to check out this article by Euskal Kultura, (in Spanish). Here’s one of my favorites, why don’t you give it a try! I’m sure you’ll recognize the tune!
The Navarrese Government also has a wonderful online resource through the Navarrese Institute for the Basque Language: http://www.euskarabidea.es/espanol/gabon-kantak/lista#. Here you will find many popular Christmas carols alongside their music scores, lyrics, and mp3s.
No excuses this year! You can celebrate in Basque and have a good time doing it!