Monday, August 30, 2010

Agur Marijaia. Agur Aste Nagusia.

Last night was the end of Aste Nagusia, the 9-day long festival in Bilbao. The festival celebrates the Basque culture and the end of summer. It was an amazing festival and I’m so happy that I got to witness some of it. The traditional attire for the festival is to wear a blue handkerchief around your neck.

The mascot of the festival is Marijaia (her name roughly translates to "Lady of the Party"). She was designed to look like traditional Basque women, complete with rural clothing and a handkerchief (though her face is suppose to look comical). She comes complete with her own song, “Badator Marijaia” Here’s her song (also comes with some video from the festival):

Marijaia parades through the festival, stopping at different points so that people can dance to her song. Here’s her parade (Courtesy of Michelle Morris):

The festival ends with Marijaia floating on a barge down the river, shooting off fireworks as she passes. They also play this very somber music that really tugs at your heartstrings. A couple of my pictures of her floating down the river:

She stops near the Town hall and that’s when the people of Bilbao say goodbye to her. Then they light her on fire. Here’s video highlighting the ceremony:

But alas don’t worry, next year there will be a new Marijaia to preside over the festival!

There’s also a spectacular fireworks show after Marijaia is burned to a crisp (video couldn't upload b/c of bad internet connection, check back in a few days!)

As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, there was a lot of traditional Basque dancing during the festival and here's 2 videos (Both courtesy of Michelle Morris):

The Professional Basque Dancers (courtesy of Michelle Morris):

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