Christmas songs are traditionally sung in the period surrounding the holiday, and in many cases have words which are clearly not of a religious theme. Others are originally carols encouraged for use in worship, but which somehow have ended up being sung in secular settings, either by groups of wassailers or professional choires. This applies both to Euskal Herria and other countries. The undeniable fact is that although some songs are not popular models in their origins, they have come to play a major role in the building up of the Christmas spirit. The two songs that follow are good examples of religious popular carols and are sung in the three French Basque provinces.
Experts who have thoroughly examined the song known by the title Oi Bethleem! state that it is a translation. On the one hand, it seems that the song had a French version and a version in Béarnese dialect too. Its first appearance in print being older than 200 years, it can unquestionably be affirmed that it counts with a certain tradition. On the other hand, two of our greatest experts on folklore, namely Aita Donostia and specially Manuel Lekuona, have often chosen this song as the most beautiful Basque Christmas song of all time.
Lapurdi, Nafarroa Beherea, Zuberoa