Christmas is a coming and the geese are getting fat! Please put a penny in the old man's hat.
I haven't thought about this carol is ages but when you have a kid I suppose everything from your own childhood resurfaces. However,let's get down to the crux of the matter,Christmas!
My first Pays Basque Christmas was uneventful to say the least. You see I was born and raised in the Caribbean where Christmas is taken to a whole new level. We put up the tree in the beginning of December,some folks in November, there is soca parang music,Christmas carols, Christmas pop songs and parang music that can be heard blaring through car stereos and in the stores. The food is amazing and definitely not for those trying to watch their calories. Everywhere is decorated, people are dressed in bright bold colours and the parties are constantly happening. So, for my first Christmas in Biarrtiz ,when we drove through the streets and there were hardly any lights and the mall had token decorations, to say the least, and no Christmas music was to be heard...anywhere! I definitely did not feel the spirit. Biarritz had their light show but it was just a drop in the bucket and I felt seriously homesick.
However, I must admit that over the years, the Pays Basque has significantly stepped up their game. Today I have marked down on my calendar a wide variety of Christmas markets to attend and other possible events.
So here is the low down for those of you new to the Pays Basque or are still trying to find your way.
Markets and Lights
St Jean de Luz - From December 1st - St Jean de Luz is starting to give Biarritz a good run for their money with a detailed and well though out plan of activities throughout the month of December.
Bayonne -from December 1st with their cute Christmas market and the Ferris Wheel to get you into the spirit. There is also the Christmas Chalet with Santa and some lights.Don't go with any grand ideas of a Christmas in Prague,London,New York or Bucharest as you will be disappointed, but for what it is,it is cute and a good start to getting into the spirit.
Biarritz - from December 22nd .The light show is strewn throughout the city center and is breathtaking but they start so late that this year we probably won't be here when it starts as we will go overseas and then they finish before we even return.
Anglet - Cinq Cantons - French/German Christmas market that runs for about a week from the 7th of December.
Ahetze - Local Christmas market that was held last weekend. December 2nd.
There are other small village markets that you just have to keep your eyes open!
Le Bus Vert - This can be found in Nomad's land that is smack between Bidart and Guethary. It's a unique spot in the area and they host a Christmas day Market and you can meet Santa and have an environmentally conscious Christmas. This year it's being held December 8th.
The Anglican Church- Every year the Anglican church ,that doesn't actually have a physical church in Biarritz anymore has an amazing Christmas Carol service . The Catholic Church in Biarritz,opposite Les Halles (marche) kindly hosts the Anglican church and this year the Carol Service will be held ,Sunday the 16th of December at 11 am. It's all in English and it's a mass strictly in song. Afterwards,they have international food from the various members of the congregation that you pay a token fee to partake in the scrumptious goodies.
The Ice skating rink ,patinoire, in Anglet also has a day when you can come and meet Santa and skate around a bit.
San Sebastian, Spain - Gorgeous display of lights from the 1st of December and on the city's official website their is a detailed plan of all the events that will be running over the Christmas holidays.
With respect to food, the Pays Basque seem to be into light soups,cepes mushrooms,oysters,Saint Jacques,roast beef,pate,fois gras ,cheese and a traditional Christmas log (buche) so if you are going over to anyone's house on Christmas Day please bear that in mind. My husband's former boss invites us to his family home whenever we spend Christmas in the Pays Basque. They are truely warm and friendly people,welcoming us into their home on such a intimate family day and it means a lot to us as we ourselves have no family in the region.The meal lasts for 6 to 7 hours with multiple courses but not your traditional honey glazed ham ,turkey and stuffing but it will leave you satisfied !
Needless to say, a Pays Basque Christmas is one to experience and you have to make the most out of it all. There are more and more things to do every year and it is always possible to recreate your own traditions and maybe introduce a few of them to your friends to spend a wonderful Christmas!
All the best for the season!