Antzar Eguna (Goose Day), Spain

Spain also has their share of interesting holidays and festivals such as La Tomatina or tomato food fight, running of the Bulls and The Day of the Geese.

The Day of the Geese is part of the Basque San Antolin festival which is also commonly known as Antzar Eguna in Basque language or Dia de Los Ganos in French. The Antzar Eguna is one of the most important days within the San Antolin festivities. This tradition which is held as part of the San Antolin festivities is celebrated in the fishing-town of Lekeito in Spain. It is a competition that takes place around the 1st to the 8th of September with the festival reaching its peak on the 5th and the goose grabbing happening every first Saturday of the said month. The Day of the Geese is a competition where the participants will try and decapitate a goose that is suspended on a rope held by spectators. The one who can successfully do it the fastest wins. There is no doubt it is one of the most unusual festivals in Spain.

The origin of this goose tradition dates back over 300 years. It is also done during Andera Mari and Saan Roque festivals in Spain and it is one of the many Spanish events that involve animals. However, due to the use of animals and especially beheading them, groups such as PETA have tried to end this competition. It is considered gory or a form of animal abuse for other people.  In the present time, because of popular request, the player can now decide what goose he wants to use. For his turn, he can choose if he wants the goose to be a real goose or a plastic goose.

The harbor is the setting for the celebration and every year, thousands of Lekeitio inhabitants will wear the typical blue shirt of nankeen and gingham neckerchief also known as Arrantzales or Basque sailors. A lottery system will then be drawn to determine who will be the one to go first. After which, as their fishing boats go to the middle of the harbor, two men will prepare a goose on the rope then a player will attempt to jump off and grab the greased goose and remove its head. To make the competition even more challenging, groups of people on either side of the Harbour will be the one responsible in pulling the ropes then let it fall slack so that the participant would have to jump into the air to get to the goose and subsequently fall into the water. The man and the goose are now held up in the air and dropped down into the water for a number of times. The idea is to twist or rip the goose’s head off the rope as quickly as possible while coping up with the vigorous movements. This will be repeated until either the young man fails and has been shaken loose or when he has successfully grabbed the goose’s head and removed it from the body.

If the current player does not succeed to get the goose’s head, then the next participant will try to remove the goose’s head. And as for the winner, the person who had decapitated the goose’s head the quickest will be decided as the winner. Any dispute will be resolved by a rowing competition around San Nicolas Island in the middle of the Lekeitio Bay. As for the prize, the winner of the competition gets to keep the goose.

This festival started out as a competition for men to show their strength to be able to impress women. This is done as a way for them to be able to find a potential mate. But the competition has changed since then throughout the years to more of a festival event.