De Atlas Etnográfico de Vasconia
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This chapter covers a group of games where children have fun moving to the beat of a song. Even though they may be mixed games, they are mainly be played be girls or girls with very young boys. The song is often accompanied by clapping. The surveys showed very few songs in Basque. The main reason for that is those games were mainly learnt at school and until the 1960s, Spanish was the language used in the classroom and in the playground in Basque speaking areas. The same can be said with regard to French in those areas of Iparralde (northern Basque Country) that are Basque speaking.

Most of the games are played in a circle: the participants hold hands, with a girl in the centre of the circle who dances and/or acts out the song; she chooses another girl to be a partner and to perform or complete the activity in question.

In some games, the girls dance in rows facing each other, which move towards and away from each other to the beat of the song. Some dances are in circles and chains. They all share the characteristic of being simple to perform and where the song is important.

Finally, it should be remembers that those games also involved miming, acting, etc.

Circle games. Korruka

Al corro de las patatas [Ring a Ring o’ Roses]

This game was found in most of the places surveyed. It is normally a game for small children and it is usually played with an adult.

The form a circle holding hand and turn around. When they say “alupé” [a-tishoo], they squat and then all sit on the floor. In Allo, Eugi and Lezaun (N), they sing “Al corroncho de la patata” and in Apodaca (A) “Al corro de la alpargata”.

In Mendiola, Moreda, Narvaja, Ribera Alta, San Román de San Millán, Vitoria (A), Bilbao, Carranza, Getxo, Portugalete (B), Aria, Artajona, Monreal and Viana (N):

Al corro de las patatas
comeremos ensalada,
como comen los señores
naranjitas y limones,
alupé, alupé,
sentadita me quedé.
[Literally: Running after potatoes / we will eat salad / just like ladies and gentlemen / eat oranges and lemons / A-tishoo, A-tishoo / I sit down. Version sung in English: Ring-a-ring o’roses / A pocket full of posies / A-tishoo! A-tishoo! / We all fall down]

Tengo una muñeca [I have a doll]

The girls hold hands and dance in circles while they sing[1]. At the end of the game, the participants usually squat or kneel down.

The following song is very common:

Tengo una muñeca
vestida de azul,
con su camisita
y su canesú.
La saqué a paseo
se me constipó,
la metí en la cama
con mucho dolor.
Esta mañanita
me dijo el doctor,
que le dé el jarabe
con el tenedor.
Dos y dos son cuatro
cuatro y dos son seis,
seis y dos son ocho
y ocho dieciséis.
Y ocho veinticuatro
y ocho treinta y dos,
ánimas benditas
me arrodillo yo.
[I have a doll / dressed in blue / with her blouse / and its yoke. I took her out for a walk / she got a cold / I put her in bed / and she was very ill. This morning / the doctor told me / to give her syrup with a fork. Two and two are four / four and two are six / six and two are eight / and eight sixteen. And eight twenty four / and eight thirty two / holy souls / I kneel before you.]

Face-off games in rows

Pase misí, pase misá. Zubiri, zubiri. A la víbora (Oranges and Lemons equivalent nursery rhyme in English)

“Pase misí, pase misá”, “A la víbora” and “Zubiri­ zubiri” are three ditties used for the same game. This consists of going under a bridge, zubia, or through a door that two players make by forming an arch with their arms. At the time indicated by the song, they lower their arms (“cae el puente or cierran al puerta" ["the bridge or door closes"]) and trap the player who is passing through.

Pase misí, pase misá. This is the most common name. A selection formula is used to choose two girls to be the madres [mothers] and to lead the game. They choose, in secret, the colour (blue-red), the fruit (pear-apple) or sweet (chocolate-toffee) that will be the symbol of the group that each one belongs to. They then make a bridge by raising their arms over their head and clasping hands. The players go under the bridge as a chain or holding each other by the shoulder or waist, they go through to the beat of this song:

Pase misí, pase misá,
por la puerta de Alcalá
la de alante corre mucho
y la de atrás se quedará.
Pase misí, pase misá...
[ I pass, you pass / through the Alcalá Gate / the one in front runs / and the one behind will stay]

When they get to “la de atrás se quedará” , they lower their arms and trap the girl who is going through. She is then asked: “Do you prefer red or blue?” or any of the other agreed alternatives. Depending on the answer, the child stands behind one or other mother. The game continues until all the participants are distributed into two groups. The game ends by the mothers holding hands and the girls of each group hold on to the girl in front’s waist and try to pull the other group just like in soka-tira (tug of war). The winner is the group that manages to pull the other over.

Singing in the round games

La cantinerita [The little canteen keeper]

In the most common way of playing the game, the girls form two lines, standing opposite each other and a child in the middle. While the girls of the rows clap, the ones in the middle, with her hands on her hips, begins to sing and dance from one side to the other to the sound of the music. When she says "me saludan” [they salute me], she stops in front of the girl she has chosen and salutes her like a soldier. The chosen girl salutes back. Then, both link arms and dance while singing the last verse. When it ends, the first one joins the group and the second remains in the centre as the “cantinerita” and the game continues.

The versions of the song are not very different, but sometimes the order of the verses change. Sometimes when they say “gozar tu amour” (enjoy your love), it is replaced by “rogar” (pray) or "lograr tu amor" (gain your love). The lyrics of the song found in Amézaga de Zuya, Pipaón, Vitoria (A) and Abadiano (B) goes:

Yo soy la cantinerita
niña bonita del regimiento,
que a todos mis soldados
tengo contentos, del batallón.
Un día mis soldados
cuando me ven pasar,
me saludan
y se escuadran
y me dicen al pasar:
Cantinerita niña bonita
si yo pudiera gozar tu amor,
una semana de buena gana
sin comer rancho estaría yo.
[Literally: I am the little canteen keeper / the pretty girl of the regiment / who I keep all my soldiers / happy, of the battalion. One day my soldiers / when they see me pass / saluate me / and form a square around me / and say when I go pass. Pretty little canteen keeper / if I could enjoy your love / I would happily not eat / for a week]

  1. This rhyme was also chanted while skipping rope, according to data collected in Durango (B) and Zerain (G).