Carnaval in Navarra is a fascinating place to see many European pre-Christian traditions blended with the Catholic faith. This year I visited the towns of Irurtzun and Aoiz, East and West of Pamplona respectively. In both villages one can find the march of Zanpantzar whereby the participants attach loud cow bells to their waists to frighten away the evil spirits from their pastures and crops. In Irurtzun, they also have a march of the pagan Basque mythological creatures that accompany the Zanpantzar marchers. West of Pamplona, in the foothills of the Pyrenees and along the River Irati made famous by Hemingway‘s fly fishing in The Sun Also Rises, is the beautiful medieval village of Aoiz. In this village, approximately 100 years ago a murder was committed on the back streets and narrow alleys of the medieval quarter. After the murder, the narrow street was closed off permanently and opened only during Carnaval. During Carnaval, the villagers reenact the murderous confrontation with larger than lifesize dancing puppets accompanied by music. Also in Aoiz, are the unique personages of the Maskaritas and Kaskabobos, that make their entrance from the closed off “evil” street onto the Plaza del Mercado. These masked personages frighten the children (and some adults too) and scare off the evil spirits in the village to purge it of its wickedness. The kindness of the people in these villages, their pride in their age old traditions, and their inclusiveness of outsiders make a cool late winter’s day a warm festive occasion to behold. The sound recordings are of the Zanpantzar in Irurtzun and the kalejira (march) in Aoiz. To truly appreciate the sound recording I highly recommend using headphones. The recordings were made using some Roland CS-10EM binaural microphones that closely replicate human stereo hearing. Enjoy.
• Carnaval Irurtzun the beginning of the Zanpantzar march