A quick glance into the history of Spain
Spain is located in the Southwestern region of Europe, the name “España” derives from the Roman Empire’s Hispania, ruling of the Iberian provinces, in which Spain occupies 85 percent off. The national language is of course Spanish- a romance language descendant of Latin.
There are minority languages within Spain, which local communities speak such as Catalonian and Gallego. 329 million people worldwide speak Spanish, it is known that Spanish is one of the easiest languages to learn. Spain has a very complex history of foreign invasion as well as being the centre of one of the biggest Empires in the world- The Hispanic Empire which colonized many overseas territories.
From being ruled by a dictator to parliamentary monarchy, the Spanish are passionate about democracy and do not let politics control their life. With a hefty population of an estimated 47 million people, the Spanish are known for their laid-back and vibrant lifestyle.
Spanish lifestyle and family values
The chilled lifestyle attracts many people from all over the world to emigrate to Spain due to the hot climate and work-life balance. Traditionally in village towns, the locals have a ‘siesta’ everyday which is a four hour break out of their working day, in order to catch up with their family for lunch and a mid-afternoon nap before heading back to finish their working day.
Time management is not an important aspect in the Spanish society, everybody is relaxed and take their time doing day to day tasks. This is why they are a laid-back nation; rushing is not part of their day. Typically, late lunches are enjoyed with family and dinner isn’t served before 9pm.
Family values are prominent in the Spanish culture; family represents safety, integration, recognition and above all love. Even though the family model has been through changes in recent years, Spaniards still consider family as their first social reference.
The Spanish family is like a large nest where the numerous members rely on each other for protection and above all, help and love. Spaniards are open to outsiders welcoming them with affection, respect and care.
The main religion in Spain is Catholic Christianity. According to the Pew Research Centre, Spain ranked at the 16th place out of 34 European countries in terms of levels of religiosity; a level which is lower than Italy, Portugal and Poland but considerably higher than the United Kingdom and the Nordic countries. Catholicism has been present in the Iberian Peninsula since the times of the Roman Empire.
During the Spanish Empire, Catholicism was spread to the Philippines and imposed in Latin America. The two countries remained predominantly Catholic.
Nevertheless, from the end of Francois dictatorship only 3% or Spaniards regards religion as one of their three most important values; a slightly lower percentage than the average European one at about 5%. According to a survey published by the Pew Research Center in 2019, 54% of Spaniards had positive view of Muslim, while 76% had a favorable view of Jews. Furthermore, according to the Spanish Center of Sociological Research, 68.3% of Spaniards citizens self-identify as Catholics with 46.8% defining themselves as not practicing, while 21.5% as practicing.
The same study shows that 27.9% identify as Atheist and 7.3% as agnostics. An astonishingly 31.9% of Spaniards never attended mass, whilst only the 11.5% attend the mass every Sunday and holidays. Many younger generations do not comply with the Church’s moral doctrines on issues such as pre-marital sex, marriage, sexual orientation and contraception.
By contrast, some remains popular in everyday life with religious festivals taking place all over Spain.
Spanish cuisine is one of the most popular in the world, food is vital for social situations such as lunch and dinner with family, even attending local restaurants to support the economy. Let’s explore authentic Spanish dishes typically served:
- Paella: the prominent dish associated with Spain. The dish is made up of rice with either a wide selection of meat or seafood on top. Best served with a glass of sangria
- Patatas Bravas: typically served in tapas, these cubed potatoes are shallow fried and mixed into a sauce ranging from spicy to creamy.
- Pimientos de padrón: these green peppers are also served in tapas, usually they’re sweet but you can play pepper roulette with sweet and spicy peppers.
- Gazpacho: tomato soup, traditionally served cold
- Jamón Serrano: cured ham is a Spanish delicacy, legs of ham are salted and hung up to preserve. Ham is usually included in many meals and paired with cheeses, bread and olive oil. Serrano Ham is very special as it is not produced anywhere else but Spain.
- Croquettes are made of béchamel sauce, shrimps and bits of jamón Serrano, coated in egg and breadcrumbs before being deep fried. This is a typical dish every Spaniards affirms it is best cooked by their Grandma. Currently you can find many variants of this enticing dish.
- Churros: fried dough shaped into sausage shapes, then coated in sugar and dipped in melted warm chocolate. The perfect dessert served on the streets during festivals.
In Spain, the annual calendar is filled with festivals and holidays which are celebrated with family, friends and the community. Socializing with one another is very important in society, people coming together to celebrate during festivals is the reason for the tight-knit communities within the Spanish regions.
Here is a list of important Spanish National holidays:
- 1st January: Año Nuevo, New Year’s Day. The first day of the New Year is celebrated with family and friends, as soon as midnight hits on Nochevieja (New Year’s Eve) you must eat 12 grapes as a sign of good luck for each month, these grapes are then washed down with cava.
- 6th January: Dia de los Reyes magos, The Epiphany/ three kings day. This special day is when children all over Spain are given gifts. This is the celebration of the Kings reaching Bethlehem and meeting the Baby Jesus. People take to the streets and celebrate the arrival of the three kings, this day marks the end of the festive period.
- 9th April: jueves Santo, Holy Thursday marks the beginning of Easter in Spain, famously known as Semana Santa. The celebrations are spread out during the Easter week. Each region celebrates Easter differently. Everyone takes to the streets for the flamboyant parades filled with colours as a celebration of the life of Jesus and the union between the community represents the importance of the brotherhood
- 10th April: Viernes Santo, Good Friday
- 12th April: el Domingo de Resurrección, Easter Sunday, the church bells ring with happiness for the resurrection of Jesus. Lamb is traditional eaten for lunch and then dessert consists of la mona de Pascua, an Easter cake decorated with coloured feathers and chocolate eggs.
- 13th April: el Lunes de Pascua, Easter Monday
- 1st May: Día del Trabajador: Labour day is a celebration of the end of the dictatorship of Franco who banned the tradition of labour day for 40 years.
- 15th August: Assumption of Mary is the Christian holiday of Mary being accepted into Heaven. The day is celebrated with parades taking place in cities and towns all over Spain. Businesses and schools close in order to have the big feast after the parade.
- 1st November: Fiesta de todos los Santos, All saint’s day is when families gather to lay fresh bouquets of flowers on graves of their lost loved ones in order to keep the memory of them alive.
- 6th December: Día de la Constitución, Constitution day is celebrated for the transition from a constitutional monarchy to a democracy.
- 8th December: La Immaculada, Immaculate conception is the day of the start of the festive season, with the day celebrating Mary becoming the mother of Baby Jesus. Everybody decorates their houses and streets are filled with lights.
- 25th December: Navidad, Christmas Day consists of a big family gathering indulging in a festive feast for the birth of Baby Jesus.
- 26th El Día de San Esteban: Boxing Day in the UK is celebrated in parts of Spain. It’s a Christian festivity which remembers San Esteban the first martyr in the history of Christianity.
Spanish people are a very sociable nation who enjoys street parties and spending the evenings in restaurants and bars. Their fashion is modern, you will typically see Spanish women wearing cotton shorts and vests which are suitable for the hot weather. In the colder seasons, they will throw on jeans or trousers with a jumper and trainers.
Spain is the home of a variety of high street and luxury fashion brands such as Zara, Mango, Stradivarius, Mando Blahnik and Bimba y Lola. These brands are known for their plain but classy clothing suitable for all occasions. The most popular Spanish designer known all over the world is most probably Custo.
Famous artists such as Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali were Spanish and are part of the Spanish art culture dynasty. Spain is home to wonderful historical architecture and art which has added to the glorious work of Western art. The Spanish art was heavily influenced by the Italian and French during the Baroque period which flourished just after the Renaissance.
Sadly, during Franco’s ruling artists like Picasso and Dali had to produce their magnificent artwork during exile as Franco abolished all art and humanities culture. Even to this day, tourists from all over the world travel to Spain’s cities and towns to admire the architecture and museums.