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The tale of Olentzero

In the Basque Country, the famous Santa Claus does not exist like in many other parts of the world. Here, during Christmas time another person visits…

The mythological character, Olentzero is a chubby, ragtag, coal stained man that wears his traditional Basque style beret called a txapela and carries a stick, cigarette and a sack.  He lives in the forest in the middle of the large mountains of the Basque Country.

The story says, even though there are many versions, that one day in the forest of Euskal Herria (Basque Country), the fairies accompanied by the Prakagorri elves found a baby.  A blonde fairy gave him the name Olentzero and also the gift of strength, courage and love.  The fairies, who were known by all the people that lived in the mountains, left the baby on the doorstep of a house where a childless couple lived knowing that they would take good care of the baby.

At dawn, when the man left his house to go milk his cows, he found the baby at the door.  Running, he went to his wife and showed him to her.

From that point on, Olentzero grew up in the forests and received a lot of love. He became a strong, generous and healthy man.  He made charcoal and helped his parents. After many years, the parents of Olentzero became old and died.

Olentzero remained very lonely in his house in the middle of the forest and with the passing of the years he became saddened.  It was then when he decided to help people in need.  In the town near his hamlet, there was a house full of children who had no parents and that lived from the charity that people gave them.

Olentzero, who was good with his hands, started to make toys for the boys and dolls for the girls with the intention to make them a little bit happier.  When he finished making all of the toys and dolls, he loaded his donkey with two sacks: one full of coal and the other one filled with his creations. And very happily, he went down in the direction of the town.

When he arrived at the house where the children lived, Olentzero gave them gifts and told them the stories that his parents had told him when he was young.

And this was how his fame spread.  When he went down to sell his coal, all the town, especially the children, recognized him and surrounded him.  All adored this man who was so kind, strong and with a face dirty with coal who made them feel loved.

One day there was a cold storm with thunder and lightning that destroyed many things in the town, forest and mountain.

Olentzero, who was coming down to town, saw a lightning bolt fall on a house. He quickly approached and discovered that there were children inside calling for help through the flames.  He entered the house and removed the children through a window.  When he had removed the children, a huge rafter fell on Olentzero and his poor heart could not hold out.

While the town was looking for survivors and crying about what had happened, they were surprised by a bright light that came from the house where the lightning bolt had fallen.  No one knew what was happening inside.

Suddenly, the blonde fairy who had found Olentzero in the forest appeared and said: “You have been a good man full of faith and with a good heart.  You have dedicated your entire life to do good things for others and even given your own life to save other people.  You will not die. You will live forever in the hope of the children.  From now on you will make toys and other gifts for the little ones who do not have parents throughout Euskal Herria“. Upon hearing this, the Prakagorris hastened to say that they would help him.

Today, when Christmas time arrives, all the children celebrate the arrival of Olentzero by singing songs and passing on messages of love and solidarity.

Badator Olentzero, Zorionak eta Urte Berri On.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in 2014.

May dreams, friendship, peace and love live on.

Let’s care for each other, love more, make mistakes, change our minds, think of new possibilities, breath, rest, laugh, fight for your dreams, work with pleasure, live and be Happy!

We will see each other next year. Muxus (kisses in Basque) to all.