Christmas Eve offers us one of the rare moments each year to eat with the ones we love and take part in our own cultural traditions. Different countries celebrate the holiday with their own family’s dishes with unique preparations, making the holiday that much more special.
One great example is Spain’s version of Santa Clause, Olentzero. Legend has it that Olentzero was a giant and lived in the Pyrenees with other members of the Jentillak, a clan of giants. The tale states that they saw a glaring light coming from the clouds that only a partially blind member of the Jentillak could manage to see. He knew the light signified the birth of Jesus. Stunned and afraid, the story has it that all the giants left the Pyrenees, but Olentzero stayed to embrace Christianity. Ever since this day Olentzero makes a trip to town each December 24th to bestow great gifts and kindness upon all the children.
Another Basque tradition is the Three Kings Parade each year on January 5th. In San Sebastian, the “Three Kings” arrive to signify the last day of Christmas festivities and spend all day in town so they can see as many children as possible. In turn, the residents lead a parade with festivities, food and music that continue into the late hours, typical of Spanish nightlife.
This year, try another culture’s holiday experience through Chef Bollo’s “A San Sebastian Christmas Eve” four-course tasting of some of the Basque region’s most celebrated holiday dishes. We invite you to end the year with something new.