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Ancient carnival in Spain wards off evil spirits

In this Jan. 28, 2020 photo, ''Joaldunaks'' walk along the road as they take part in Carnival, in the small Pyrenees village of Ituren, northern Spain. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)
In this Jan. 27, 2020 photo, ''Joaldunaks'' Mikele, Maritxu, Olaia and Anne, from right to left, pose for a photo ahead of Carnival in the small Pyrenees village of Zubieta, northern Spain. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)
In this Jan. 27, 2020 photo, "Joaldunak" Juan Jose Arregi, 51, poses for a photo as he takes part in Carnival in the small Pyrenees village of Ituren, northern Spain. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)

(AP) -- In one of the most ancient carnival celebrations in Europe, dozens of people don sheepskins, lace petticoats and conical caps, sling cowbells across their backs and parade through two Spanish towns.

The groups, named "Joaldunak," after the Basque-language word for cowbells, march through the northern towns of Ituren and Zubieta to herald the advent of spring.

The annual procession stems from ceremonies held to ward off evil spirits and bless the harvests to come. The celebration, traditionally held at the end of January, is believed to date from before Roman times.

The participants march along roads and mountain paths between the two towns, jingling their bells.

In this Jan. 27, 2020 photo, ''Joaldunak'' march along a path as they take part in Carnival in the small Pyrenees village of Ituren, northern Spain. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)

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