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Monday, June 23, 2008

STRANGE HOLIDAYS - Antzar Eguna (Goose Day)

Where: Lekeitio, in the Basque region of Spain.

Antzar Eguna or "Goose Day" has its roots in at least 350 years of Spanish insanity. Antzar Eguna involves a group of young Spaniards trying to decapitate a dead goose hanging from a rope in the middle of the town's harbor, which just goes to show how a nice party can get out of hand.

The tradition used to be celebrated up and down the country until people realized that it was just too fucking weird and they should just go back to doing normal stuff, like irritating a bull weighing half a ton. But, for some reason, the inhabitants of Lekeitio have hung on. Literally.

The rules say the contestants have to behead the goose using only their hands and arms. They try this, approaching the dangling goose in a rowboat, grabbing its neck, then falling into the harbor waters. Bystanders then yank the rope on which the goose is tied, heaving both bird and man up into the air, before dropping them back into the water again. The idea is to tear the goose's head off using that jerking motion, a motion not dissimilar to the one you might use to get a stupid child's head out of a bucket.

If the youth is jerked free from the bird and plops into the harbor, he fails and another person has a go. If he manages to hold on to the bird despite the best efforts to shake him off and also manages to wrench the head off, he wins, and the prettiest girls in town flock into his goose blood-streaked arms.

For The Love of God, Why?
No one seems to know. Really, would any explanation suffice?

This is done as part of the festival of St. Antolin, but there appears to be no record of the saint decapitating geese at any time during his ecclesiastical career, or even sitting down and thinking it might just be a fun idea for a party game.

It appears they just do it for the hell of it, and that may be the best reason of all.



Fernando said...

Hi, I have shot a documentary about Antzar Eguna in 2007 and this event was a way to prove amongst youngsters who was brave enough to work at sea. The town of Lekeitio, where this happens, is a fishing town and this was a way of choosing new recruits. Cheers!

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