Monday, December 06, 2010

Izena duen guzia omen da

Patty is going to shortly pass us out of Basque country and I have to get my two cents in before that happens.

Who hasn’t wanted to visit Basque lands, and what is the fascination with these people and their territory, half in France and half in Spain? What about these peoples with their thick eyebrows and long straight noses has forged an identity and cohesion that’s lasted thousands of years, believed to be the most direct descendants of CroMagnons who lived in this area 40,000 years ago, so fierce that not even the Romans made many inroads into their culture.

Perhaps this notion of “first neighbor” -

"Every rural Basque house traditionally had at least one “first neighbor”. In some places, a house has as many as four. The relationship exists between houses, is permanent and fixed and can be changed only if a house is abandoned completely or if a new house is built. Then the order of “first neighbor” relationships shifts to accommodate these facts. Such neighbors are expected to assist each other without complaint, to help with agricultural tasks and at rites of passage (birth, baptism, marriage and death). “First neighbors” play their most vital roles during the process of death—by letting friends, relatives and the wider community know the sad news, by taking over all domestic and agricultural work so that the mourning family can grieve. The neighbors hold a wake for the deceased and offer food and drink to those who come to pay their respects. Neighbors carry the coffin and help with the burial, as well as with prayer that ensures the soul’s journey to Purgatory."

We were given a glimpse into the Basque pride and identity by our host at Hotel Akeretta who told us the Kingdom is here, and it’s Basque. Heaven on earth or not, the food and scenery are as close as you can get. Glad we got to experience a small bit of it.


Pat said...

I don't have any neighbors like that, do you? Fascinating.

Katharine said...

I have one that comes close, but doesn't this first neighbor tradition perhaps explain their longevity as a culture. The Highlanders were clanish, but always fighting each other.

Pat said...

My first thought was of the Jewish peeps' culture. The way they have always watched out for each other is also remarkable - and admirable...and they too have outlasted other cultures and outside pressures.