|The Basque province of Lapurdi is located on the
coast north of the Pyrenees. It is composed of 859 square kilometers. The
capital is Baiona.
One of Lapurdi's most outstanding
manifestations of Basque folklore is found in its ihauteria of
Mardi Gras celebration. Today this celebration takes place before Lent and has become
linked to the Christian calendar. This yearly event, however, stems from a
pre-Christian tradition of preventing disease and plague by purging the locale of
evil and, according to Urbeltz (2000), dangerous insects
that had the potential to wreak havoc in an agricultural peasant society. Other
interpretations revolve around ritual to hasten the coming of spring and provoke
abundance. These two interpretations are not necessarily incompatible.
Participants, some of them masked, have various duties to carry out, and
perform dances with noisy elements such as clashing sticks, clapping, and stomping.
In return for this service, the community gave the dancers some form of payment,
traditionally food. This custom was known as Zirtzil. The procession
takes the following order: