Gastronomic societies in San Sebastian are undoubtedly one of the great pillars of the culture of the city. Next, we will tell you about their origins, evolution and why they have become one of the hallmarks of San Sebastian.

The origin

In the second half of the 19th century, was usual that the workers of the city gathered in the taverns to eat after the working time. The table time lengthened for hours, what caused that the City Council opted for imposing an opening closing hour which allowed to keep better the public order.

The reaction of the citizens was to create their own places to eat and drink without having to pay attention to any type of schedule. In addition, being partners and owners of the premises, they were going to save money, so the idea soon became a reality.

The importance of the txokos

The word txoko in Euskera means corner or small space. This term has been generalized to designate gastronomic societies in general. Txokos play a pivotal role in the local culture and they are a meeting point for partners and friends.

The gastronomic societies and their role in the local population

It is essential to specify that these companies do not limit themselves to exclusive activities. They also actively collaborate in the life of the city.
They organize recreational activities, highlighting their prominence in parties such as San Sebastian Feast on January 20th. Each society has its own tamborrada or group of drummers.

They also organize events related to gastronomy, such as tastings of drinks or any other products. Events related to leisure, such as card games, fishing or hunting championships.

Which are the most known?

Probably the most important and one of the oldest is La Unión Artesana, which opened its doors in 1870 and is still active. Its tamborrada closes the San Sebastian festivities, reserving a space in the lowered of the flag of the city, and continuing its songs once the party ends after midnight.
The Unión Artesana is heir of the first Gastronomic Society of San Sebastián, La Fraternal, founded in 1840.

The Gaztelubide society is the protagonist by their illustrious guests it hosts. It is a place of tributes to personalities from various fields. At the party on January 20th, she is in charge of playing the March of San Sebastian, at the beginning of the party.

Other curiosities

Originally, societies were created for the exclusive use of men. For many years, and until almost the end of the 20th century, women were forbidden to enter. With the new times, women can already access, although there is still some conservative societies that limit their participation to the kitchen.

Fortunately, all the new societies that open up are for men and women.

It is important to highlight that there are societies of this type in different parts of the world. The Basque emigration to Latin American countries caused its proliferation in countries such as Mexico or Argentina.

In short, feel lucky if you get invited to any of these societies. A more traditional food and drink, will add the good atmosphere of society. Maybe you can also listen to your members sing.