UNUSUAL HOLIDAYS: Goose Day

Brendan Meadows

Goose Day

Spain, 1666: A group of young Spanish people attempt to decapitate a goose hanging from a rope. Nobody knows why. Thus starts one of the Basque people’s traditions: Antzar Eguna, or “Day of the Geese.”

Modern day: Spaniards in the resort town of Lekeitio string a dead goose up on a wire above the harbor. Contestants attempt to jump off their boats and latch on to the goose’s head and break its neck, all for the sake of tradition.

Goose Day takes place during the San Antolin festival, which happens between Sept. 1 and 7 of every year and specifically occurs on Sept. 5. The festival is marked by excessive amounts of alcohol assumption and plenty of food and entertainment. The actual goose pulling begins after all of the contestants have drawn to see what order they would go in.

Since Lekeitio is a fishing town, the contest takes place above the town’s harbor, where the dead goose is hung. When the contestants fishing vessel rolls under the goose, the “jumper” attempts to latch on and decapitate the goose. As soon as the jumper has latched on, the “pullers,” the people who pull the rope to shake off the jumper, begin to yank the rope, causing the jumper to rocket 100 plus feet into the air and come back down, submerging the person temporarily. To make it more difficult, the goose has been coated in grease. The victor, which is the first person to decapitate the goose, gets to keep the waterlogged goose as a prize.