This article was translated by John R. Bopp

Today in Bermeo, they’re celebrating the Magdalenas, a festival that has a very peculiar centerpiece. The mayor of Bermeo takes a boat out to the island of Izaro, situated at the mouth of the Mundaka ria, to throw a roof tile onto it and remember the cry of:

“Honaino heltzen dira Bermeoko itxuginak”
(The waterdrops of Bermeo reach up to here)

As we brought up in a comment we made about an article published in The Telegraph about Red Bay titled “Red Bay: A Corner of Canada that is Forever Basque”, the use of a roof tile in this act has profound symbolism.

…For the Basques, the roof tiles have a very important symbolic meaning, tied to their main function of in the structure of the house, the ‘etxea’, which for many centuries was the center of life and of the social structure of the Basques.

Newborns who had not been baptised were buried under the eaves of the houses, to be protected by the home.  This is a tradition that has been maintained in some places in the Land of the Basques well into the 21st century.  The roofs, the roof tiles, marked the city limits.  It’s not difficult to find official documents that use phrases like “the waterdrops of the municipality reach here.”  Nowadays, each year, the mayor of Bermeo throws a roof tile in front of Izaro island to remind everyone it belongs to Bermeo.  The mayor shouts the phrase so that the whole world can hear and then throws the tile…

The waterdrops of the Basques have reached all the corners of the world: North and South America, Europe, the far East, Australia, Asia…you just have to see the information on Basques in the World that we’ve collected to check.

The waterdrops of Basque homes reached, and reach, all corners of the globe.  And they’re still coming, because the descendents of Basques from all those corners have maintained their Basque heritage and have been able to preserve and grow the heritage their ancestors left them.  What’s more, they’ve done so by wonderfully integrating themselves into their new homes and becoming respected pillars of their communities.

Today, hundreds of Basques from all over the world today can go outside, roof tile in hand, and throw it, crying out,

“Honaino heltzen dira Euskadiko itxuginak”

Zorionak eta eskerrik asko!


Basque Centers

For this website’s purposes, the definition of a Basque Center is one that is officially registered with the Basque Government



Last Updated on Dec 20, 2020 by About Basque Country

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