The cold weather is well and truly here, towns and display windows are dressed in Christmas lights, Christmas presents are at the forefront of your mind and little children dream of Santa Claus… In Aquitaine, the magic of Christmas with a feel of Gascony and the Basque country…
With the tradition of lo halha de Nadau, the Christmas sheaf is lit and carried around the estate to ward off evil spirits and bring good harvests. The parade is accompanied by fifes and tambourines, with warmth provided by torchlight and mulled wine.
A Landes tradition extending the celebration of the birth of Jesus to include all the year’s newborn babies, the children of the commune sing lo picahòu (the pique hoü song) in front of the house of each child and are rewarded for their endeavours with sweets.
And in the Basque country, it is the coalman, Olentzero who descends from the mountains on his pottok (wild Basque horse) to celebrate the birth of Jesus. As with the others, this Basque tradition dates back to before Christmas was celebrated by Christians and is in keeping with the celebrations of the winter solstice.
Let’s not forget to mention the gourmet markets, particularly the traditional marchés au gras (geese and ducks) and truffle markets, famous in Périgord but found in all parts of the region. And there’s no shortage of Christmas markets, ice rinks and other attractions.
>> You will find additional information, dates and places in our special winter feature.