Start of the celebrations
The raising of the flag is the first of the events programmed for San Sebastián Day. It kicks off the celebrations on the stroke of 12 midnight on January 20 in the Plaza de la Constitución to the sound of the March of San Sebastián.
Ba gera! Gu ere bai!
That’s how our March begins, and it continues for its first few bars so: “...Donostia bat bakarra munduan...”, only one San Sebastián in the world. And that’s the way we are, it’s the way we feel, we’re Donostiarras (from Donostia) here and all over the world. And to an even greater extent if possible on San Sebastián Day, even if we are somewhere far away and even if we can’t come home, we return to our roots and remember that emotional tie which connects us to Donostia.
Many are the men and women of Donostia whose heart will be here, in their city, with their people, keeping an eye on the events. That’s why, and because the sound of drums and barrels makes us remember our origins and collaborates in our city’s opening up to the world, as well as in the diaspora, those who miss Donostia will celebrate San Sebastián Day with us and in style. There will certainly be many more places where Sarriegi’s melodies can be heard and, no doubt about it, between us all, in years to come we will see more people from Donostia in those tamborradas which, in any part of the world, improvised or with the greatest of solemnity, celebrate our patron saint’s day.
In days gone by, the Societies would raise the flag (often the flag of their own Society) in each of their venues to the sound of their respective tamborradas; the first record of it being raised on the mast of the building at that time serving as the town hall in the Plaza de la Constitutión dates back to 1924 and was carried out by a municipal worker with no ceremony whatsoever.
In 1935 the Gaztelubide Tamborrada and its “fanfarrie” (sic) participated in raising of the flag for the first time in the Plaza de la Constitución. They leave the Society 15 minutes before 12 midnight and head for the square, where the Mayor José María Paternina fixes a tie on the Society’s banner. Other participants in the flag raising ceremony alongside the Mayor are the Presidents of the Unión Artesana, Euskal Billera, Donosti-Zarra and Gaztelubide. After the Civil War, the presence of the Gaztelubide Tamborrada at the flag-raising ceremony would become customary.
In 1947, January 20 saw the move of the Town Hall to its present location and in the following years the flag was raised in Alderdi Eder, although it returned to its original location in the early 50s.
In 1999, a substantial change took place in the representation of citizens in the official start of the celebrations: one representative from each of the tamborradas existing in the city had the opportunity to take part in the celebration together with Gaztelubide. The participation of either men or women constituted a decisive step in the egalitarian participation of women in the city’s biggest celebration.
The participation of women
Another significant landmark occurred in 2006: not only men and women from other tamborradas participated in the group, but Gaztelubide too, in response to an express request from the Mayor Odón Elorza, incorporated women to its ranks. The Gaztelubide Tamborrada approved by 39 votes in favour, one abstention and 25 votes against to incorporate the figure of the female aguadora or water carrier to their tamborrada. Given the short time left until San Sebastián Day (the motion was approved on January 11), that year the aguadoras who played at the flag raising ceremony and in the Tamborrada would come from the Artzak Ortzeok Tamborrada (12 aguadoras).
In the year 2012, during the flag raising ceremony, the director of all of the aguadoras participating in the event (a total of 28) was a woman: Ainhoa Olasagasti. The following year, she would direct all of the people participating in the flag-raising ceremony, sharing the moment of the March of San Sebastián with “Mendi”, the Gaztelubide Drum Major.
This year the members of the different tamborradas participating in the flag raising ceremony with Gaztelubide will amount to 120 (65 men and 55 women).