Thursday, September 10, 2009

Customs old and new

AOG, Madrid


A few days ago I went to a wedding in the Basque country. One of my partner’s cousins was getting married. It was held in the town of Markina, halfway between Durango and San Sebastian.

It was great.

I was enthralled by the family spirit of the whole thing.

I was lucky enough to witness some old customs, and some new ones, as well as the first lashes of culture clash.

It is traditional in the Basque Country for a dance of honor called “Aurresku” to be performed just outside the church once the bride and groom have been married.

In this dance, the male dancer does a step whereby his leg is outstretched and kicked upwards all the way to his face. Amazing. No Ballets Russes here.

This was the traditional part.

The new custom, it would appear, would be the letting out of fireworks as the newlyweds walk past their guests and into the car.

Everyone remarked on it and asked (and by everyone I mean everyone) if the bride was from Valencia.

You see, aside from Paella, Valencia is known for its fallas and its fireworks. If you think the Chinese have cornered the market on loud firework displays, you’ve never been to Valencia.

So there it was, 2 customs, one old, one new, both surprising since, these days, it is less and less common to see weddings where the Aurresku is performed. But there were still new customs to be seen.

We were treated afterwards to a delicious wedding banquet in a lovely restored traditional basque homestead located in the mountains. Think Swiss Alps with log cabins, but add a couple of stories, make them bigger, and use stone, not wood.

It was white fenced throughout and everyone said it was very atypical to see white fencing. Personally, I thought I was in Virginia!

At our table were sat my partner’s brother and his wife, as well as his sister, and their cousins and wives. It was amazing to hear all the childhood pranks these people got into. It was great. I liked how they were telling stories 15, 20, even 30 years old. How they spoke of their joint childhood, their common stories, adventures, and the times they got in trouble too.

How they referred to each other's parents as "Auntie this" and "Uncle that".

I loved being witness to all that.

On of them was taking about his own daughters; he was worried about how they would try to outsmart him and how he was powerless to stop them. Well, much like his own parents I suppose.

Was this not the eternal family wheel upon which all humanity is thrust into? Childhood, youth, adulthood, patterns which repeat themselves albeit with new actors.

I kept thinking how lucky they all were by being able to grow up with family members their age, and that they are still in touch with each other. What a wonderful thing.

The bride and groom were surrounded by their loved ones and we didn't get much of a chance to talk to them.

For me it was also a great opportunity to get to know better some of my partner's family, and to learn how everyone is related. My family being so small, it was great to be able to do this.


Customs anew...

It is worth noting two of the banquet’s waitresses. One of them, in her early 20s or younger, blonde, blue eyed, prim, proper, white-gloved throughout, very professional, and, genetically designed not to laugh at anyone’s jokes.

She would come over with food, tell us what it was. Wait for us to grab a portion. Then split. If a joke was uttered, she either ignored it, or raised above it. We were actually embarrassed to make any jokes when she came round. She was not mean or anything, just trying to be professional I suppose.


The other waitress was definitely my favourite.

In her early to mid 40s, or younger perhaps, blonde, hazel eyed, tanned, muscular, prim, proper, white-gloved throughout, very professional, and, genetically designed to be a different gender once upon a time.

Some people mentioned that she was a body builder who used a lot of steroids, and that that was why she was so muscular and had such a masculine gait to her.

My partner and I differed. She was lovely. Which is why I was convinced that she might have started life with different gonads at one point in her existence.

She walked in heels like a football player would, and her hair was reminiscent of Ivana Trump. Her fake nails were the size of spoons. Yes, she could have tackle d anyone if she had wanted to. But it was all very dignified.

My partner and I loved the fact that the place which held the wedding banquet had the good taste to hire her. A new custom.

The old and the new. Just another day in Spain.

2 comments:

Timbo said...

Sounds lovely!! Any pics?

Ynot said...

Not as of yet. But the church in the post is the real church.

Romanesque with Gothic overtones.