ARE WE EUROPE
ARE WE EUROPE

Pagan Rituals in Navarre

BY DIEGO ARROYO

Diego went to the shade of Mont Mendaur, through the valley of Spain’s Ezkurra River, to a region of woods, hamlets, and small villages where, once a year, the Joaldunak gather to shake their bells, awake nature from winter and scare bad spirits away.

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 It’s a mountainous and leafy land. A land filled with legends and impossible stories where culture and mystery intermingle into traditions of forgotten origins

It’s a mountainous and leafy land. A land filled with legends and impossible stories where culture and mystery intermingle into traditions of forgotten origins

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 Nobody knows when or where the Joalduna (“cowbell” in Basque) character emerged, but it is now the central figure of the Carnivals in Ituren and Zubieta—two towns, with around three hundred inhabitants each, that appear to have been stolen from a folk story.

Nobody knows when or where the Joalduna (“cowbell” in Basque) character emerged, but it is now the central figure of the Carnivals in Ituren and Zubieta—two towns, with around three hundred inhabitants each, that appear to have been stolen from a folk story.

 About fifty of those six hundred neighbours become the Joaldunak each year. They don waistcoats made of sheep skin, leather sandals known as  abarcas , white skirts, and neck kerchiefs.

About fifty of those six hundred neighbours become the Joaldunak each year. They don waistcoats made of sheep skin, leather sandals known as abarcas, white skirts, and neck kerchiefs.

 This very pagan celebration is rooted in witchcraft, enchanted forests and miraculous fountains.

This very pagan celebration is rooted in witchcraft, enchanted forests and miraculous fountains.

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 Far from any political centre, their isolation helped preserve this festival in a different way than in the neighboring towns.

Far from any political centre, their isolation helped preserve this festival in a different way than in the neighboring towns.

 This surreal version is much more deeply connected to nature and the magical world.

This surreal version is much more deeply connected to nature and the magical world.

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