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The wedding celebrations ended in most of the Basque Country on the Sunday after the marriage. On that day, the newlywed wife took part in a ritual ceremony to take possession of the symbolic burial site in the church. In other cases, a simple celebration was held on that Sunday to mark the link between the two families brought together by the marriage.

The honeymoon did not appear in the local customs to do with marriage, except in the case of wealthy or high-ranking families. It gradually gained ground and, according to the data collected in our surveys, it became widespread from the 1920s and 1930s with the exception, in the southern Basque Country, of the years of hardship after the Spanish Civil War. The earliest honeymoon was a day trip, followed later by journeys further away and lasting several days, and nowadays the newlyweds travel to exotic destinations.

The honeymoon becoming the norm led to a small reorganisation of the celebrations after the wedding, as the return of the couple was celebrated with a welcome meal, known as a tornaboda or post-wedding in some locations.

Its description, therefore, is chiefly to do with the meal that marked the end of the wedding celebrations and the entry of the new mistress in the marital home.


The honeymoon was remembered with great fondness by the people surveyed as it was the first time they travelled so far from home and that they were also alone (Aoiz-N).

At the start of the 20th century, except for wealthy or high ranking families, it was not usual for the newlyweds to go on honeymoon. In some places, it was explicitly pointed out that the newlyweds never went on a honeymoon (Lekunberri-BN).

In the surveyed locations, many cases were given, in general, of brides and grooms who, after the marriage ceremony, had a small meal and then immediately carried on with the normal work of the home and farm[1] (Apodaca, Artziniega, Berganzo, Bernedo, Moreda, Pipaón-A; Markina and Orozko-B).

However, from the 1920s and 1930s, honeymoons became longer and the newlyweds would travel further away from home. Changes to employment law have been decisive in this regard, as the current trend is for both spouses to work and also to do so as employees. On the other hand, the great qualitative leap that has occurred with the advances in transportation and the large range of companies specialising in travel has been fundamental.

Post-wedding offering

In a large area of the Basque Country, on the Sunday following the wedding, the newlywed wife made a funeral offering at the grave of the husband’s family. In practice, it consisted of a rite of taking possession of the symbolic grave, eliz-hartzea or sepultura-hartzea, closely linked to the changes in status in the household on receiving a new member.

The new mistress then took over the duty of making offerings of lights, bread and alms on the grave of the household that she joined, and saying prayers in suffrage for the deceased relatives. This obligation was laid down in civil life by means of marital agreements with clauses that, in the life of the parents, transferred the running of the house to the new married couple.

That same day, and with the wedding celebrations coinciding time wise with that Sunday of taking possession of the grave, special meals were usually organised that in many places were known as tornaboda or in the Basque-speaking area etxe-sartzea or etxeko boda. These meals were for a smaller circle of people, usually the immediate families of the newlyweds.

The tornaboda meal also seems to have been solely related to a new member joining the household. In this case, the post-nuptial reception was held in the home of the newly married couple, thus expressing the link of both houses.

The meaning of the tornaboda has now faded and the very word is no longer in use in the Spanish-speaking areas of the Basque Country. Its Basque names - ezteiak, kontraezteiak, etxeko boda, etxe-sartzea, sarjargia - are proof of the plural significance of that event.

In the surveys conducted by the Athenaeum in the early 20th century, the custom of hosting the tornaboda was recorded in Aoiz, Castejón, Estella, Falces and Pamplona in Navarra. According to that study, it was held ten days after the wedding in Aoiz and the second day after in Pamplona and Castejón. In Estella, it was a dinner that took place when the couple returned from their honeymoon and all the wedding guests attended. In Falces, this dinner was held in the home of the parents of the bride. It was very lively and ended with a dance that lasted into the early hours[2].

In Moreda (A), Urduliz (B) and San Martín de Unx (N), tornaboda" was taken to be the repetition of the meal of the previous day, the wedding, in order to eat up the leftovers and was only attended by the relatives.

The people interviewed in Artajona (N) did not know the meaning of tornaboda, but knew the saying: "lo que no se da en la boda, tarde en la tornaboda" (there’s no rose without a thorn).

  1. José Mª SATRUSTEGUI. Euskaldunen seksu bideak. Oñati: 1975, p. 115
  2. EAM, 1901 (Arch. CSIC. Barcelona) IIDh10.