Spain has one of the more distinctive cultures in all of Europe, known for its festivals and sangria, Spain has been an immensely popular tourist destination.
Spain, which occupies a large portion of the Iberian Peninsula, was once ruled by the Romans, and later by the Visigoths and Moors of North Africa. Cultures still vary from region to region, but several prevailing traditions stand out as iconic elements of the country as a whole.
Perhaps one of Spain’s best-known cultural facets is la siesta. Many Spaniards take care to balance their workloads with time to relax. Professionals and students often go back home from work or school around lunch time to spend a few hours resting and socializing with family before returning to work or studies. Originally started as a practical means of avoiding the blazing midday heat, la siesta has remained a popular tradition in Spain. However, people in big cities have mostly moved on in favor of full work days. Still, la siesta remains prominent in smaller towns and cities throughout the country, or during the weekends everywhere.
The Spanish tend to eat late. Lunch takes place around 2 or 3 in the afternoon, and dinner can come as late as 9 or 10 at night. Lunch ranks as the primary meal of the day, featuring multiple courses and a longer time frame. Spaniards are also known for skipping out on household dinners in favor of eating out at a tapas bar instead. Tapas consists of pieces of bread with toppings such as meats, olives and cheese.
Flamenco music reigns as one of the more recognizable traits of Spanish culture. The staccato dancing style and soulful plucking of classical guitars over mournful vocals make for an enchanting spectacle. Gypsies in southern Spain introduced flamenco music to the rest of the country, and many towns and cities in southern Spain still feature rustic flamenco venues with top notch talent.
Bullfighting is inextricably linked to Spanish culture, no matter how many animal rights groups protest the sport as cruel and immoral. Developed out of the bloody gladiator traditions formerly practiced during the time of the Roman Empire, bullfighting gradually rose to national prominence. The image of a bold matador sweeping his cape past a charging bull is undoubtedly one of the most commonly associated elements of Spanish culture. As evidence of this, many of the biggest bullfighting rings in the world can be found in Spain, with major venues in cities like Madrid, Seville, Valencia and Pamplona.
Holidays and Festivals
Spain has many famous festivals. The running of the bulls in Pamplona takes place during the San Fermin Festival in July. There’s also Valencia’s explosive combination of fireworks and sculpted effigies that constitutes Las Fallas Festival in March. Just outside of Valencia lies the town of Buñol, known for the “Tomatina” food-fight in which thousands of friendly combatants hurl tomatoes at one another in August. Also of interest is Semana Santa, or Holy Week. The Andalusian city of Seville hosts a massive series of processions and special events during Holy Week, culminating with a city-wide celebration on Easter.
Come to Spain and experience the culture, the language and much more. Don’t miss it!!