Spanish Culture & Society

El Día de los Muertos – The Day of the Dead

Dia de los MuertosThis celebration is held in Mexico and South American countries and Spain starts on October 31st at midnight and finishes on November 2nd. It dates back to pre-Columbian times when people honoured their ancestors. The meaning behind it is to honour the dead and to celebrate life. It is also sometimes known as the “Día de Todos los Santos”.

What happens during the celebration?

People remember the dead by telling stories about them and they also clean the graves of their loved ones that have passed on and lay flowers.

1st November is a day to remember children and is known as the “Día de los Angelitos” (Day of the Little Angels).

2nd November is for remembering adults who have died. This is the official “Día de los Muertos”. People believe that the dead come to life again on this day. There is even a belief that if the dead see that they are not being honoured on this day they will haunt the living. Continue reading

Semana Santa en España – Holy Week in Spain (Easter)

As Spain is a Catholic country, Easter, (Semana Santa) “Holy Week”, is the most important celebration of the religious calendar. The spectacular celebrations go back centuries and the processions through the streets were invented to teach the fall and rise of Jesus Christ. I have been lucky enough to experience the most traditional celebrations which take place in Castilla y León (Valladolid). However, the most flamboyant processions can be seen in Seville and Málaga in Andalusia. Read on to find out how Spain celebrates Easter. Continue reading

¡Feliz Día de San Valentín!

Valentine’s Day in Hispanic countries

In Spain, Valentine’s Day (El Día de San Valentín or El Día de Enamorados) is celebrated on 14th February in much the same way as in the UK and America. Restaurants are fully booked, cards, flowers and chocolates are sent. In most of South America it is known as “El Día del Amor y la Amistad” (Love and Friendship Day). This day is not just for lovers but friends also go out for dinner.

Here are some romantic words and expressions related to love and relationships in Spanish: Continue reading

5 Lucky New Year Traditions in Spain

12 lucky grapes

Every New Year’s Eve (Noche Vieja) people gather in the Puerta del Sol in Madrid to hear the chimes of midnight ring out. Upon each chime it is traditional to put a grape in your mouth and if you manage to eat all 12 you will have good luck through the coming year. Shops sell packs of 12 grapes especially for this new year tradition. Often they are not seedless grapes, making it even more of a challenge! It is a really funny experience especially when you have a go for the first time and you are surrounded by people laughing – it is not easy to achieve! Continue reading

5 Weird and Wonderful Spanish Christmas Traditions

Everyone knows Spain likes to party. They have a fiesta for almost any reason throughout the year, however, especially at Christmas time, when they stretch out the celebrations for longer than us here in the UK, (from 22nd December with the Christmas lottery until 6th January – Kings Day) they have some really funny fiestas and superstitions. Here are the top 5 weirdest Christmas traditions in Spain: Continue reading

El Gordo (The Fat One) – Spain’s Christmas lottery

Spain’s Christmas lottery, “El Gordo” is not only the biggest lottery in the world but also one of the oldest, having started in 1812. It works differently to most lotteries. This year the total prize pool amounts to £1.95 billion being distributed around the country. There is a 1st, 2nd and 3rd prize, plus over a thousand small prizes to be won which is why the draw, held every 22nd December takes three and a half hours.

This year the draw is taking place in the Teatro Real Opera House in Madrid. Many people attend the live lottery draw wearing fancy-dress costumes (disfraces), armed with good-luck charms (amuletos), and holding placards (pancartas) with slogans on them. Find out how Spain’s Christmas lottery is drawn and how the winnings are divided here: Continue reading

It’s Carnival time in Spain!

Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival: PartyWhen is Carnival?

The week leading up to Lent in late February is when Spain celebrates Carnival (Carnaval) when some of the wildest parties take place.

Why is it celebrated?

There are various ideas as to the origins of the Carnival celebration. Some believe the word “Carnival” comes from the term “farewell to the flesh” referring to the excesses which led to Lent. Others believe it is related to the Roman Solstice event, the “Saturnalia” during which people drink and dance to excess.

Read more about the origins behind the Carnival celebrations here. Continue reading

Why you must visit the Alhambra palace, Granada.

La AlhambraWith over two million visitors a year it is easy to see why the Alhambra, known as the “Jewel of Moorish Spain” is well worth a visit. Here are a few good reasons why:

Beautiful location:

The Alhambra is an ancient palace-fortress built by the Arabs in the middle of the fourteenth century which sits on a hilltop overlooking the Andalucian city of Granada with the Sierra Nevada mountains in the background. You can see the beautiful Alhambra palace from miles around.

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