September 20 is celebrated in most countries as Saint Sebastian Day. Donostia-San Sebastian is a small town located in northern Spain, as part what is called Basque Country. According to the mayor office, Donosti’s population is nearly 200,000. It is the home of critical European universities as Universidad del Pais Vasco, Tecnum and Universidad de Deusto. Basque culture is known to be different from the rest of Spain. In a city where food and wine are an essential part of the gastronomical customs of the Basque people, Donosti has the record for the most Michelin starred restaurants per square kilometer in the world.
Among the existing traditions, there are in the Basque Country; the “Tamborrada” states the closing festivities of the Christmas season. The mayor’s office organizes the “Tamborrada” or drum parade with several associations, sporting clubs, gastronomical societies, schools, universities, etc. The whole town gets involved, and the party starts at midnight of the 20th of September in Constitution Plaza with the winching of the San Sebastian Flag while the crowd chants the march of San Sebastian. This year over 3,000 people gathered around the plaza wearing their national colors. As part of the ceremony, people dress as cooks with chef hats, chef coats to honor that Donosti’s culinary traditions, or with the uniforms reproduced those worn by the Gipuzkoan battalions who fought in the War of Independence and were similar to those of the French army.
According to the tourism office webpage, these celebrations began in 1836 as part of the local festivities; throughout decades it became a formal institution to celebrate the patron’s day with drum parades in the streets of San Sebastián. Over 8,000 drums parades marched all over Donosti, bringing joy to the crowd and playing the traditional march of San Sebastian (written by Raimundo Sarriegui).
Perplexity, nostalgia, and folklore are some of the sentiments perceived by the interactions between the drum parades and the public, the beats of the drums are the heartbeat the city. Keeping customs and traditions alive is one of the most acceptable methods to honor culture worldwide. In a town punished by terrorism and politically polarized as Donosti, this is the day to forgive, embrace and park conflicts. Intense emotion and the great pride of being Donostiarra flood the streets of San Sebastian.