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Bull-running is the Spanish Tradition to Die for

The religious festival Semana Santa is a big deal along Spanish traditions. A Holy Week

TRADITIONS IN SPAIN: “A 55-year-old man died after repeatedly attacked by a bull at a festival in Onda”. Such news is as common as the long-time Spanish tradition of bull-running, bull-festivals, and bull-fighting. Every year, thousands head to bull-running, the most popular takes place in Pamplona and draws about one million spectators. Such tradition has its toll – and not everybody returns back home.

Art lovers visiting Guggenheim museum in Bilbao.
Art lovers visiting Guggenheim museum in Bilbao.

World´s first Empire

If you think Spanish customs are just about beaches, Flamenco music and dance, lots of sunshine and bullfights, then think again. People sometimes forget that Spain has been a cultural centre of Europe, the world´s first global empire and Spanish is the world´s second-most spoken native language. It´s time to pick up more, and remind about Spanish traditions.

Family values in Spain

Spaniards still consider family as the most important and their first social location. Meaning, nothing is more important than the family values, even though the family model has been through changes in recent years. In Spanish culture, family represents safety, integration, recognition and above all love.

Semana Santa in Malaga
Holy Week: The parade Semana Santa in the main street of Malaga

Festivals in Spain

Spain is a country full of festivals, Semana Santa is a religious Easter festival, a big deal and the Holy Week.
La Tomatina. A mass tomato battle and a fiesta in the town of Bunol the last Wednesday in August. Fun and laugher, simply throwing tomatoes at anything that moves.
Las Fallas of Valencia. Join Spaniards for an ear-splitting festival of satire and fire in March. Explosive-packed fallas – or papier-mâché sculptures – of famous people.

Running of the Bulls. Get ready for free-of-charge bull running in front of six fighting bulls through the narrow streets of Pamplona to the bullring.

Vine Lover: Actress Eva Longoria visiting Rioja in Spain
Vine Lover: Actress Eva Longoria visiting Rioja in Spain

Free Spanish Traditions

Esta Major de Gracia. A colourful and weeklong festival in August of Barcelona´s Gràcia district. Free to join.
Carnival in Cadiz is a celebration of life, and a party of lifetime. Last for ten days. Fiestas all over Spain, including the famous carnival of Santa Cruz, Tenerife.

Dia de Los Reyes Magos. Colourful parades on the evening of January 5th in towns and cities. A celebration of the arrival of the three wise men in Bethlehem after Jesus’ birth.

Bullfighting. Spain is the mecca of bullfighting, a classic element of the country’s culture. The season runs from March to October.

SEVILLE SPAIN: Woman dancing with the traditional flamenco dress
SEVILLE SPAIN: Woman dancing with the traditional flamenco dress

Flamenco music

As an art form, Flamenco was developed in Andalucía from the end of the 18th century, originally linked to gypsy culture. It´s music and dance recognized as a symbol of the nation´s identity. Flamenco dancing stir up a passion and energy so unique that it continues to stand out as one of the most exciting art forms to witness today.

Spanish Christmas dinner

Christmas is celebrated over several weeks, eating great food and respecting traditions. Most important, Santa Claus give out presents on 24th or 25th of December from Papa Noel. Also, important, the Christmas tree, Cava wine, and the Spanish Christmas Lottery, El Gordo – The fat one – with a huge prize fund.
The Spanish eat well, and seafood is a tradition at Christmas Eve dinner.

Jamon cured ham, the Spanish speciality
Jamon cured ham, the Spanish speciality

Regions and cities

There are 17 regions of Spain, also known as Autonomous Communities. Castile and León is the largest region of Spain with an area of 94,223 square kilometres.

The biggest cities are Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Sevilla, Bilbao and Malaga.
Frias with 300 inhabitants is classified as “the smallest town of Spain”. This small northern town in Burgos province is considered the most beautiful villages of Spain.

Kisses in Spain and coffee

People greet each other with a kiss on each cheek, given to say hello and goodbye. People don´t do this when they come into work, but if meeting a friend for a drink. Women are always greeted this way.

Spain has a strong coffee culture, and they drink coffee at all hours of the day. Try café solo, a small glass of nothing but strong black coffee.

Plaza Mayor in Madrid.
Plaza Mayor in Madrid.

Siesta and Nightlife

The Spanish enjoy parties, and bars and clubs are open until early hours. Lunch and dinner times are late. Lunch is normally a large mean, dinner is very light. The Spanish siesta is an ongoing tradition, many head home for a midday nap, and many shops still close at lunchtime.

Fools and unlucky day

Tuesday the 13th, not Friday the 13th, is considered to be an unlucky day in Spain. Some warn against doing anything important on this day, don´t get married or embark a plane.

Spaniards do not mark celebrate April 1st as fool’s day. However, there is a similar day on 28th December. El Dia de los Santos Inocent – Holy Innocent´s Day – is a Catholic tradition that has been adapted to the modern world. This is the day people play pranks on each other.

Sweet treat: Spanish Churros and chocolate sauce.
Sweet treat: Spanish Churros and chocolate sauce.

How are you in Spanish

If you do want to learn Spanish, it´s important you know how to greet someone for various occasions.
Hola, means Hello. Buenas means Hi. Buenas Dias is Good Morning. Buenas tardes – Good afternoon. Buenas noches – Good evening. Bienvenido is Welcome.
The phrase “Que pasa”, meaning what is happening, often used as a greeting.

Famous Spanish people

Once I met actor Antonio Banderas during the Semana Santa celebration in Malaga. He is the most famous Spanish person I ever met. Tennis lovers will probably be familiar with Rafel Nadal, the king of clay. Penelope Cruz in a Spanish actor, model, and designer. And General Franco, anti-communist and military leader until he died in 1975. The list of famous people is long.

Home for Easter: Antonio Banderas in Malagas famous Calle Leiros for Semana Santa.
Home for Easter: Antonio Banderas in Malagas famous Calle Leiros for Semana Santa.

Happy New Year

Spain has own tradition to celebrate New Year´s Eve, known as Noche Vieja – the old night. At midnight people eat doce uvas – twelve grapes – one at each stroke of the clock. This is supposed to bring good luck, prosperity, and happiness in the New Year.

Facts about Spain

Population: 47,3 million. The firth largest population in Europe.
Capital: Madrid. Population: 6,5 million.
Life expectancy: Spanish women are outliving male: 85 years compared to 79 for men. Only the Japanese have a higher life expectancy.
Highest mountain: Teide in Tenerife.
Longest river: Rio Ebro from the Cantabrian Mountains – 930 km and flows into the Mediterranean.
Famous artists: Diego Velàzquez in the 17th century, Francisco de Goya (1746-1828), Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali in the 20th century.

Gudmund Lindbaek
Gudmund Lindbaek
Journalist founded King Goya a few years back. Meeting people, local food and engaging stories are my passion. I plan for ambitious once-in-a-lifetime trips. My delight is the prospect of Future Travels: Longer, Slower, Farther! I just want a tiny slice of adventure to be alive, and then excited to return home.


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