International Basque Language Day, also known as International Day of the Basque Language, is celebrated on December 3. It was established in 1948 and became official in 1995.
The Basque language is spoken by the Basques, an indigenous ethnic group who primarily inhabit the Basque Country, a region spanning an area in southwestern France and northeastern Spain. According to 2012 statistics, Basque is spoken by over 700,000 people. It is a language isolate believed to be one of the few surviving Pre-Indo-European languages.
Basque Language Day was instituted in 1948 by the Society for Basque Studies. December 3 was chosen to honor Saint Francis Xavier, whose feast day is celebrated on this date. St. Francis Xavier was a Roman Catholic missionary from Navarre. According to legend, his last words before passing away were in Basque, as it was Xavier's mother tongue.
In 1995, the Basque Government and Euskaltzaindia (the Royal Academy of the Basque Language) institutionalized the holiday. International Basque Language Day is celebrated with various activities and events, such as cultural performances, conferences, exhibitions, workshops, round tables etc. These events focus on celebrating the Basque language and Basque cultural heritage.