There are a lot of special traditions to welcome the new year that you might not know about. In Spanish homes, families and groups of friends eat 12 grapes, one by one, at the stroke of midnight as the bells toll in the clock tower of the Puerta del Sol in Madrid. Each of these twelve grapes represent one month of the year. The tradition says that you should finish eating all 12 grapes before the bells finish chiming.
This often results in a hilarious race to ring in the new year with your relatives and friends! By doing so, Spanish tradition holds that Cupid will find your better half and will bring you love in the new year. Good fortune is one of the most popular wishes for the new year.
In Spain, many people drop a gold ring or coin into a glass of Cava before the midnight toast. Those couples that are married toast with their wedding ring inside the glass of Cava. The first step to get love, fortune and luck in the new year is starting the new year on the right foot. Sign in. Highlighting the successes of U. Highlighting the strong relationship between Spain and the U.
Write the first response. More From Medium. Discover Medium. Make Medium yours. Become a member. About Help Legal.If you're planning a trip to Spain, brushing up on the traditions and customs of the region will help you make the most of your vacation. While many Spanish traditions like tapas and flamenco dancing have become legendary around the globe, knowing where to experience them in Spain can be difficult for some tourist.
From annual festivals and events to great food and cultural experiences, there's plenty to discover on your trip to Spain—if you know where to look.
Every tourist who comes to Spain wants to try tapas, one of the most famous of Spain's traditions, but many don't understand the culture around this style of dining.
A tapa is not a type of food, it's a way of eating it. Tapas are small portions, but they can be of any of Spain's many traditional dishes. To "go for tapas" tapear in Spanish does not mean ordering a lot of dishes in one restaurant though, of course, you canbut to bar-hop, eating a different tapa in each bar. Flamenco is perhaps the most famous Spanish tradition but also one that is often misunderstood. Flamenco is not a dance but does sometimes have dancing in it, rather it's a musical style with far more emphasis on the guitar, vocals, and rhythm than on the dancing.
In fact, the whole idea of flamenco dancing is a little paradoxical: True flamenco is spontaneous, but flamenco dancing requires appropriate attire, meaning it must be planned! Still, you'll hear flamenco music and see flamenco dancing all over Spain, and you can even take lessons in many Spanish cities.
Although the pressures of a modernized market economy have made the idea of taking long breaks in the afternoon a little impractical for businesses, many Spaniards still take a daily siesta during the hottest part of the day.
Every guidebook says something different about tipping, but restaurants and bars in Spain do not expect you to leave a tip—unless you're American. That's not to say Spanish bartenders and waiters are taking advantage of U. Some bars and restaurants even have policies against tipping or where the workers give tips to the owner. However, unlike in the American service industry, Spanish restaurant workers are given living wages and health benefits, so tips aren't necessary. Bullfighting, the most controversial of Spanish traditions, is a mixed blessing for Spain.
Many tourists are very curious to see it and view it as a fascinating insight into Spanish culture, but it is also a stain on the country's reputation for others. Bullfighting is nowhere near as popular as it used to be, but it still features prominently in the country's self-image. While you can still experience these traditional bullfights in many cities across Spain, the sport is dwindling.
Bullfighting as a pastime may be dying, but soccer most certainly is not. Head to a sports bar to watch a game live or even visit one of the stadiums if you want to see this national tradition in person. Spanish nightlife, especially in cities like Madrid and Barcelona, is legendary and inclusive of all ages and interests. Each city has a part of town for each demographic, but no one really goes out before 10 p.
The Spanish are a late-night people, perhaps because of their mismatched timezone—they're geographically closer to England but in Poland's same timezone. With everything from underground clubs to elegant speakeasies, you're sure to find something to do each night you spend in Spain.
Many a tourist has been undone by Spain's rigid eating times. Miss the narrow windows for each and you end up eating on your own or in a substandard touristy restaurant that caters precisely for those who haven't gotten in sync with the Spanish way of eating.
Light breakfast starts at 7 a. You can indulge in la hora del vermut for a sip of sweet Spanish vermouth at around p. Dinner tapas are typically enjoyed around 9 in the evening, but a sit-down full meal usually starts at 10 p. The Spanish eating, drinking, and dancing culture steps up a gear when there's a festival happening—and festivals happen year-round in Spain.
Every town or village has a local fiestaat which point the locals don't just eat and drink because it's fun, they do so because it would be un-Spanish not to. Most tourists who visit Spain want to eat paella and drink sangria, but you should be wary of crafty bars and restaurants exploiting the prices for sub-par food and drinks. It's helpful to know how to properly order sangria and paella to avoid looking too much like a tourist, but you should be fine if you head to traditional local restaurants and treat your server politely.
If you'd rather not drink sangria with your meal, Spain also celebrates a rich culture of other drinks and wines produced in the country. Written by. Damian Corrigan. Damian Corrigan is a travel writer who has traveled extensively throughout Spain since moving there in He has written about the country full time since General Information. Spain in Data. Climate and Weather. Fiestas and Traditions. Travel to Spain. Hotels in Spain.
Holiday Homes. You will find bullfights indeed throughout the country, the most popular event perhaps being the "Running of Bulls" during the Sanfermines in Pamplona. But bullfights are part and parcel of any Fiesta. Flamenco, on the other hand, is the musical tradition in the country's south, in particular in Andalusia. That is where you have to move to see and listen first rate dancing and guitar playing. In April takes place Feria de Abrilin Seville, an entire week of singing and dancing and trying that great Sherry winethose delicious tasty snacks called "Tapas" and more Sherry wine If you can arrange it and find a hotel room better arrive to Seville already two weeks before Feriaand see this city's other outstanding event: Semana SantaEaster week, with its world-famous processions.
Another most popular event of religious origin is El Rocioa traditional pilgimship to the village El Rocio in the province of Huelva, in May. This pilgrimship anyhow is not too solemn and serious, Flamenco and wine being indispensable components. Follow the thousands who each year travel there and have yourself a ball.
It is unclear why the town's inhabitants started over 50 years ago the tradition of throwing mature tomatoes at each other, but today the event attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world. Madrid has its Fiesta, "San Isidro"in May. If you like bullfights, don't miss it. Carnival is popular in all the country, the best is in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, but if you are at the peninsula, Cadiz and Sitges are the places to go. More Information. Tourist Information Centers.
Plan your Trip. Car Rentals. Best known among Spain's folkloristic traditions are certainly Flamenco and bullfights.Spain has an ancient and varied culture—very distinct from the cultures of Latin America…though it does share a language and some general customs with its former colonies. Spain occupies most of the Iberian Peninsula, which lies at the southwestern end of the European mainland. However, with a population estimated at just under 49 million, it is sparsely populated for its size—in fact, some stretches in central Spain are among the least populated in Europe.
The country is divided into 17 Autonomous Communities including two island groups, the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean, and the Canary Islands, off the African coast ; two autonomous cities in North Africa, Ceuta, and Melilla; and three small islands off the coast of Morocco.
The remainder speak local languages that are officially recognized in their Communities by Spain and the European Union. The government is a parliamentary constitutional democracy, under a constitution signed into law in December The head of government is the prime minister, and there are two houses in the legislature, the Senate and the Congress of Deputies.
The monarch generally proposes a prime minister the leader of the party or coalition to win the largest number of seats in the last election. This individual is then indirectly elected by the Congress of Deputies. In Spain, it is polite to always greet people when you enter a room, an elevator, or the like.
After that, use buenas tardes. What about the language? For that matter, outside large cities, you may find relatively few English speakers. But for traveling in the interior, a Spanish phrase book is helpful. At restaurants, a good waiter will never bring you your check until you specifically request it.
The tradition of sobremesa—lingering over a meal after dessert is served, for good conversation and perhaps an after-dinner drink—is treasured in Spain. For this reason, you may have a long wait for a table at a popular restaurant on a Friday afternoon.
Holidays, Festivals, Celebrations & Traditions in Spain
But once that table is yours, you, too, can stay as long as you like. Pay more if service has been exceptional. When you are formally presented to someone, though, expect to give women a kiss on each cheek. Men tend to kiss each other this way if they know each other well, but not normally on first meeting.
In general, though, you likely will find Spaniards more informal than Latin Americans. Ditto for colleagues, waiters and shop attendants, people you ask for directions in the street… I have even used it in business: in small meetings with clients, for instance. For social events like parties, do not arrive precisely on time.
Being late is expected—at least a quarter of an hour. Like many Europeans, Spaniards like being well dressed. Though casual dress has become more…well, casual…in recent years, there are still standards. In large cities, daytime casual wear for both men and women is often more formal than in the U.
For casual nighttime outings, slacks or clean jeans for men and slacks or a skirt for women is usual. For business, men should expect to wear a suit, unless they are in a creative profession in which business casual is the norm. For women, business casual is usual for most professions.Daily life in early 21st-century Spain looks little different from that in other industrialized countries of the West.
There remain, however, some important practices that are peculiar to Spain. The most obvious, especially for foreign visitors, is the organization of the day and the scheduling of meals.
Lunch, which is the main meal of the day, is eaten between and pm. Traditionally it was followed by a nap—the famous siesta—but, because most people now commute between home and work, this custom is in decline. Supper, a lighter meal, is also taken late, between and pmor even later during the hot summer months. Business, shopping, and school hours reflect this pattern. There is a long break—generally two to five hours long—in the middle of the day, during which most businesses are closed and the streets are not very busy.
The few exceptions are bars, restaurants, and the large department stores, which do not close at midday. The main daily television news is broadcast at this time, as are some of the most popular programs. The workday resumes in the late afternoon, between and pmand continues until about pm.
Bars, which are open all day, generally serve food as well as drink, and it is a widespread custom to go for a snack before meals, especially on non-working days. The most well-known bar food, known as tapasusually consists of prepared dishes, many of which are quite elaborate and are often smaller versions of main-course dishes. There are hundreds of different tapas, but a few typical ones are mushrooms in garlic sauce, marinated seafoodSpanish omelette, lamb brochettes, and octopus in paprika sauce.
Spanish cooking varies greatly from region to region, linked to local products and traditions. Galiciafor example, is famed for its seafood, including dishes of baby eels and Vizcayan-style codfish; Catalonia is renowned for meat and vegetable casseroles; and Valencia is the homeland of paellaa rice dish made with seafood, meats, and vegetables. From Andalusia comes gazpachoa delicious cold soup made of tomatoes, garlic, and cucumber, while the cattle-producing region of Castile boasts succulent roasts and air-dried hams.
Spanish food is frequently thought to be very spicy, but, apart from a few dishes that contain small amounts of a mild chili pepperthe most piquant ingredient in general use is paprika.
Otherwise, dishes are likely to be flavoured with such spices as tarragon and saffron. The most widely eaten meats are pork, chicken, and beef, but in much of the country lamb is eaten on special occasions. Legumes, especially lentils and chickpeas, also form an important part of the Spanish diet. Spaniards frequently drink wine and beer with their meals. They also commonly drink bottled mineral watereven though in most parts of the country the tap water is perfectly safe.
At breakfast and after meals, strong coffee is the almost universal drink. Few people drink tea, but herbal infusions such as chamomile are popular. Soft drinks, both domestic and imported, are widely available.
Since the s Spanish culture, particularly the youth culture, has increasingly become part of a homogeneousheavily American-influenced international culture. In the s dance clubs on the island of Ibiza frequented by young British vacationers became a hotbed for techno musicfirst called Balearic Beat by some see Sidebar: Balearic Beat. There are also a large number of Spanish rock musicians, but few of these have achieved much recognition outside the country. The internationalization of culture also can be seen in a variety of other ways.Spain has a diverse culture which has been shaped by thousands of years of occupation by different kingdoms.
The ancient Greeks, Romans, Moors, Celts Carthaginians and Phoenicians who settled in the country played an important role in shaping the cultural heritage of the country.
Religion and Christianity in particular is also an important factor in shaping the cultural diversity in Spain. Social beliefs and customs practiced in Spain are influenced by the local religion and traditions.
Spaniards are known for being courteous and will shake hands when they meet and when departing. When interacting with the elderly they show respect by using titles such as don for men; and dona for women.
Married women wear wedding rings on their right hands as opposed to the left hand. Christianity is the dominant religion in Spain with the vast majority of Spaniards identifying themselves as Christians. A report from the Spanish Centre for Sociological Research established that The study also revealed that Islam is the second largest religion in Spain with aboutcitizens identifying as Muslims. The rise of Islam in the country is attributed to the influx of immigrants from Morocco in the s, many of whom were Muslim.
Spaniards are known world-over for their love of celebrations and festivals. Held in March in Valencia, Las Fallas is arguably the largest celebration in Spain and features parades, fireworks, dancing, and ceremonial burning. Another top festival is the Carnival which is held annually 40 days before Easter in the city of Cadiz.
Spain has a vibrant music and dance scene with a wide array of genres ranging from traditional, classical music to modern genres. The music and dance are widely influenced by the cultural diversity of the country with different regions having distinct music styles.
The region of Andalusia is known for the flamenco music and dance which incorporates the traditional seguidilla style. Other popular genres from the region include Sephardic and copla genres. The Aragon region is known as the birthplace of Jota music which is popular all over the country which features the use of tambourines, guitarro a small traditional guitarcastanets, and the bandurria. The stick-dance, as well as the dulzaina dance, originated from Aragon.
In the Canary Islands, a variation of Jota music known as Isa is common and is widely influenced by Cuban music. Catalonia is known as the home of the Rumba Catalana, a type of rumba music created by the Catalan gypsies with Rock Catalana being the popular music genre among young people from the region. In Valencia, Jota music is popular among residents who are also popular for performing bandes, local brass bands. Spanish literature includes all publications written in the Spanish language by Spanish writers.
Literature in Spain has a rich history going back hundreds of years. However, the most famous Spanish artist is Pablo Picasso whose catalog of works includes sculptures, painting, ceramics, and drawings.
Spanish cuisine is primarily drawn from Jewish, Andalusian, and Roman traditions and closely resembles Mediterranean cuisine.
Common characteristics of Spanish cuisine include the use of olive oil with Spain being one of the largest producers of olives, the use of onions and garlic and the partaking of wine during meals.
Most meals prepared in Spain have potatoes, beans, pepper, and tomatoes as key ingredients. Some popular Spanish dishes include Escabeche and the Merienda. A common snack enjoyed all over Spain is the tapa which is served either cold or hot in restaurants and bars. The clothes worn in Spain feature both traditional as well as modern influences. Young Spaniards, particularly from urban centers, spot western-styled clothing such as jeans and sundresses.
However, there are numerous attires in the country which exemplify the traditional Spanish culture and include the Zamarra a long coat made of sheepskinthe Barretina a traditional male hat popular in Cataloniathe Traje de flamenca a long dress worn by Andalusian womenand the Sombrero cordobes a wide-brimmed hat commonly worn in Andalusia. Tennis is another popular sport in Spain with the country winning the Davis Cup five times. The country has also produced record-breaking tennis players led by Rafael Nadal who became a tennis Olympic Gold medalist in the Summer Olympics.To visit Spain is to immerse yourself in a different environment.
Spanish customs and traditions have been practiced in Spain for hundreds of years. It can truly be said that Spain is immersed in traditions that emphasize their regional identity and differences.
Visiting Spain during any holiday is an exciting and enthralling adventure that visitors will never forget. Other customs and traditions in Spain have existed since its beginning.
Birthdays are different in Spain than in the United States, and many countries around the World. Yes, the kids can still have birthday parties with cake and presents, but for adults, it's different. In Spain, it's customary for an adult experiencing a birthday to treat other adults to drinks.
Every region throughout Spain has its own customs and traditions, including those involving weddings, baptisms, and death. Wedding Traditions and Customs. As with many other traditions and customs in Spain, wedding traditions differ depending upon region. The customs and traditions under discussion in this article are not meant to be all-inclusive.
For example, depending on the age and traditional values of individual families, some of the customs we'll briefly mention are not followed by everyone of Spanish and Latin American descent. Some of the most common traditional wedding customs include but are not limited to:.
In the old days, marriages were arranged. Today, Spaniards marry for mutual love and attraction to one another. In many cases in regions throughout Spain and Latin America, many people marry within their own social class. Baptisms are extremely important in the Spanish and Latin American culture.
Baptism typically follows Catholic rites. A Catholic baptism is a serious and well thought-out event for those of Spanish and Latin American descent. Before the baptism, Catholic parents select sponsors or Godparents for their infant.
These Godparents or sponsors are required to take classes.
Spanish Easter Traditions: Ideas & Resources for the Classroom
Godparents take an active role in the ceremony during the baptismal rites by holding the child and offering assurances for the child's spiritual growth. Godparents are expected to be active in the Catholic faith, spiritual, have a deep faith, and engage in prayer. During the baptismal ceremony, the infant is dressed in a traditional and decorative white christening gown.
It's not uncommon to find christening gowns passed down from one generation to the next. The Catholic rite of baptism is broken down into four different stages, each symbolizing the process of a child's introduction or initiation into the church family.
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