Postcard from... Lazkao
Ever since 1652, on the first Sunday after the Epiphany, the Cistercian nuns of Lazkao, a rural town in the Basque Country's Gipuzkoa region, have staged a re-enactment of the flight of Joseph, Mary and Jesus from King Herod's soldiers.
But since the late 1980s, when neighbours' associations started providing many of the show's two- and four-legged "extras", the region's donkeys – the animals on which the Bible's First Family are supposed to have fled to Egypt – have regularly stolen the show, to the point where the re-enactment is now known as Astotxo Eguna (Donkey Day).
One high point of last Sunday's Astotxo Eguna came when the local donkey-conservation association held its annual "Best Donkey of Gipuzkoa" competition. This year, with 55 donkeys crowding into Lazkao's central square, the winners for the "most beautiful female" and "most elegant male" category respectively were Benita and Urtain, whose proud owners each received a first prize of €300 – and a cowbell.
Later in the day, the Flight into Egypt from Herod's soldiers, complete with Mary carrying Jesus on a donkey, was re-enacted by 200 adults and children. The Astotxo Eguna then concluded with a trade in the nuns' sale of their famous home-made (and previously blessed) holy wafers.
But as local newspaper Noticias de Gipuzkoa put it, Sunday's main source of veneration was "the donkey, even if [Pope] Benedict XVI" – who recently claimed there were no animals at the Nativity – "wants them out of the picture". In Lazkao at least, that may well be no easy task.
- 1 The black and blue dress: Makers considering a white and gold version
- 2 Husband and wife die holding hands within hours of each other after 67 years of marriage
- 3 What color is The Dress, white and gold or blue and black? An eyewitness gives a definitive answer
- 5 Fearne Cotton quits Radio 1 after ten years for 'family and new adventures'
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Aqsa Mahmood branded a 'disgrace' by her parents after claims she recruited three UK girls flying to Middle East
salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...
£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...
£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...