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From Across the Channel: Unraveling Spanish Culture and Traditions

What’s on this page?

  1. Greeting culture and communication style in Spain
  2. Holidays, traditions and superstitions of the Spanish
  3. Food culture in Spain
  4. Artistic expression in Spanish culture
  5. Spanish festivals as world cultural heritage
  6. Clothing and fashion in Spanish culture
  7. Historical and cultural exchange between Spain and Great britain and impact of globalization on Spanish culture

Spain is a country of sun, sea, entertainment and traditions. And also a place where thousand-year-old traditions, everyday customs, a special flavor and, most importantly, festivals and holidays are celebrated. The WTG Spain team has prepared for you interesting information that you are unlikely to find on other resources.

Spanish culture and traditions from the point of view of Great Britain look very colorful and exciting. Spain, with its rich history, diverse cultural heritage and vibrant traditions, has always been an attractive destination for Brits looking for new experiences.

For Britons, it is interesting to observe how Spanish culture differs from their own, while at the same they find certain similarities. For example, both nations love sports, particularly football, and have a rich history and cultural heritage. However, Spanish culture has more vivid and colorful manifestations, which makes it unique and attractive to study.

Spain has a rich history shaped by different cultures such as Romans, Visigoths, Arabs and Christians. This is reflected in art, architecture and traditions. Also, the uniqueness of Spain is that each region has its own variations. For example, the following:

  • Catalonia: its own language, unique traditions, Gaudi's architecture.
  • Andalusia: Flamenco, Moorish architecture such as the Alhambra.
  • Baskonia: Basque language, traditional dances, sports competitions.

Greeting culture and communication style in Spain

The inhabitants of Spain are friendly and sincere people. But besides the usual "¡Hola!" which you will hear everywhere and not only from people you know, but also from strangers on the street, in a store or even in an elevator - Spaniards happily hug and kiss.

According to the traditions of Spain, when greeting a woman you know, it is customary to give her two kisses, starting from the left cheek. A double kiss on the cheek is a trademark of Spain, Latin America even borrowed this part of Spanish culture. Men usually shake hands. If you have already met the person several times, the handshake will be warmer and may be accompanied by a pat on the shoulder, often even with a tight hug.

The Spanish are direct, but friendly and informal. You will hear less “¡Gracias!” and “¡Por ​​favor!” and more tú (you) instead of the formal usted (you). But this does not mean that they are disrespectful. Older people in Spain are called using the prefixes Don and Doña (Mr. and Mrs.) to show them more respect and formality.

Spaniards like to share their opinion, even if they are not asked. They tend to speak loudly and are quite expressive. For them, they are usually interrupted because of excitement or to avoid awkward silence.

Spanish values

La Familia is perhaps the most important social unit in Spain. Most families in Spain are nuclear due to the effects of the economic crisis. Children continue to live with their parents until their early thirties, unless they have found a partner. Young people decide not to marry or have children until their mid-30s. When they decide to have children, grandparents usually take care of the grandchildren. Often, families choose to live close together to celebrate happy occasions and rely on each other when difficulties arise. Spanish families tend to meet often, and most often gather for a meal.

Family by the sea

Holidays, traditions and superstitions of the Spanish

Every year on New Year's Eve in Spain, people are obliged to eat 12 grapes to the sound of chimes. This Spanish tradition is explained by the fact that one grape symbolizes one month of the new year. By eating a berry, you seem to please the moon and you will have happiness. Interestingly, on New Year's Eve, Spanish supermarkets even sell special jars of canned grapes. And there are only 12 berries in each.

National holidays of Spain

HOLIDAY DATE DESCRIPTION
Night of San Juan (Noche de San Juan) June 23-24 Celebration of the summer solstice. It is on this day that summer officially begins in Spain. Usually on the beaches at night there are traditional festivities with dancing, bonfires and fireworks
Festival of Falcons (Las Fallas) March 15-19 This colorful festival involves the creation, display and then burning of huge papier-mâché figures. These figures depict satirical scenes and famous characters, and the celebration ends with spectacular fireworks
Christmas (La Navidad) December 25th Mandatory celebration with family and all relatives. On this day, everyone without exception exchanges gifts and eats traditional dishes

The Spanish are very superstitious about the number 13. They do not sign documents or conclude agreements on this day. Most often, on the 13th of every month, Spaniards try to spend time with their relatives, relax in their homes or visit local beaches. Also, according to tradition, you should not plan anything at all if the 13th falls on a Tuesday, as it is considered an unlucky day. So, if Tuesday the 13th is on the calendar, just live this day! Go with the flow, - the Spaniards say.

Also, some Spaniards believe that having a hat on your bed is a bad omen. Therefore, headdresses in Spanish homes are often hung on nails, in the dressing room, but not in the bedroom.

When a Spanish family moves into a new house, they always buy a new broom. It is believed that bringing an old broom is bad luck.

The Spanish climate and its influence on people's lives and their habits

Spain is a hot and very sunny country. For example, the Costa Blanca region has more than 300 sunny days a year. And this means that here you can enjoy a warm and mild climate almost all the time. The summer here is warm, but not excessively hot, and the winters are mild, which creates ideal conditions for a comfortable stay. But it was the climate that undoubtedly influenced the habits of the Spaniards, which have already grown into traditions.

The Spanish siesta is a tradition of midday rest that was once obligatory in many regions of Spain. Although the siesta is less common now, it still remains part of the country's cultural heritage.

The historical roots of the siesta go back to the times of the Roman Empire. Even then there was a similar custom - "sexta", which meant the sixth hour of the day, when people rested from work during the hottest part of the day. Already during the Arab rule in the Iberian Peninsula, the siesta also gained popularity, as the inhabitants adapted to the hot climate.

Nowadays, during the siesta, establishments such as shops and restaurants often close and people return home to eat and rest. Most people have lunch at 1:30 p.m. In cities, the idea of ​​a siesta is gradually disappearing, and lunch breaks last 1-2 hours. But in smaller cities and rural areas, the siesta usually lasts 3 hours, and shops do not open until 5:00 p.m.

Benefits of siesta:

  • Improving health. Research shows that short naps can improve productivity, reduce stress, and improve overall well-being.
  • Social aspect. The siesta also helps maintain family and social ties, as people have the opportunity to spend more time with their family during lunch and rest.

Siesta

Food culture in Spain

Spanish culture of food is rich and varied, reflecting regional differences, historical influences and traditions.

Meals in Spain:

  • Breakfast (Desayuno): A light breakfast, usually consisting of coffee, bread with olive oil or tomatoes, and sweet pastries such as croissants or churros.
  • Second breakfast (Almuerzo): A small meal around 11:00, often consisting of sandwiches or tapas.
  • Lunch (Comida): The main meal, usually served between 14:00 and 16:00. It consists of several dishes: salad or soup, main course (meat or fish) and dessert.
  • Afternoon snack (Merienda): A light snack served between 17:00 and 19:00. It can be fruit, yogurt or a sandwich.
  • Supper (Cena): A lighter meal compared to lunch, usually served between 9:00 PM and 11:00 PM. Consists of salads, omelets, fish or light snacks.

Spaniards love to eat. They prefer their usual dishes, as well as seafood. The coast of the Costa Blanca is rich in fresh seafood, including prawns, mussels, squid and fish. The restaurants here offer a wide variety of seafood dishes that can be sampled in many places.

Traditional dishes

DISH DESCRIPTION
Paella The most famous Spanish dish comes from Valencia. It is made with rice, olive oil, saffron and various additions such as seafood, meat or vegetables
Tapas Small portions of food served as snacks. They can be very diverse: from olives to small sandwiches and fried squid
Churros Fried sweet sticks, usually served with hot chocolate
Tortilla Spanish omelette with potatoes and onions. This is a simple but very popular dish.
Gazpacho and Salmorejo Cold soups from tomatoes, olive oil, cucumbers and garlic. Especially popular in summer.
Jamón (Jamón) Cured pork, which is an important part of Spanish cuisine. The most famous jamón iberico, which is made from black Iberian pigs.

Spaniards often organize a "tapas tour", where they go from one bar to another, tasting different snacks. It is not only a way to try different dishes, but also a social event where you can meet friends.

Food culture in Spain is also influenced by regional characteristics.

  • Valencia - in addition to paella, this region is famous for its buñol dessert (sweet donuts) and horchata drink.
  • Alicante - this region is famous for its turrón, a sweet treat made from almonds, honey and sugar.
  • Murcia - fresh vegetables and fruits are preferred here, as well as traditional dishes such as "pisto murciano" (vegetable stew) and "morsica" (roasted blood sausage).

Traditional drinks

DRINK DESCRIPTION
Wine Spain is one of the largest producers of wine in the world. The most famous wine regions are La Rioja, Ribera del Duero.
Sangria A popular drink consisting of red wine, fruit juice, soda water and pieces of fruit.
Cava Spanish sparkling wine, produced mainly in Catalonia. It is a popular drink at holidays and celebrations.

Spanish Paella

Artistic expression in Spanish culture

Spain is famous for its multi-layered and influential contribution to world art and architecture through the works of outstanding artists and architects. Here are some key figures and their works.

Artists:

  • Diego Velazquez (1599–1660). Velázquez is known for his portraits, especially those created for the Spanish King Philip IV. His most famous works are Las Meninas, Portrait of Pope Innocent X.
  • Francisco Goya (1746–1828). Goya is known for his paintings and prints that reflect the political and social issues of his time. His famous works include "The Third of May 1808", a series of "Black Paintings".
  • Pablo Picasso (1881–1973). Although Picasso was born in Spain, he became famous as a great master of modern art. His various styles and periods include Cubism, Surrealism and Abstraction. Among his famous works are Guernica and Les Demoiselles d'Avignon.

The architecture is also an example of traditional Spanish culture, art and attracts the attention of many Britons. Majestic cathedrals such as the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona or the Alhambra Palace in Granada leave an unforgettable impression. Spain's architectural heritage spans different styles, from Moorish to modernist, creating a great variety of experiences for tourists.

Architects:

  • Antonio Gaudi (1852–1926). Gaudí is one of the most prominent representatives of Catalan modernism. His most famous works are the Cathedral of Saint Simeon and Saint Eugenia in Barcelona, ​​known as the Sagrada Familia, as well as Park Güell and Casa Batllo.
  • Carles Salvador Bernat Guaradi (1899–1984). This architect, known by the pseudonym Le Corbusier, made a significant contribution to international architecture, but also had an influence on the Spanish scene. His works in Spain include Casa Mila and Casa Batllo in Barcelona.

Spanish culture, art and architecture have deep roots and a rich history, which made them an important part of the world's cultural heritage.

Another one of Spanish culture examples is ancient fortresses and walls. There are many fascinating fortresses on the Costa Blanca coast in Spain. Let's talk about some of them.

Bergantin Mountain (Castell de Bèrnia) is located in the city of Gandia. This fortress has a long history associated with defensive structures and surveillance functions.

The Castle of Santa Barbara (Castillo de Santa Bárbara) is located in the heart of Alicante and is one of the most impressive defensive structures in Spain. It occupies the top of Mount Benakanell and offers excellent views of the city, the sea and the mountain landscape. The fortress has a long history, dating back to Phoenician times and has undergone many reconstructions and restorations.

The Morro del Cargador Castle (Castillo de Morro del Cargador) is located near the town of Villajoyosa, this fortress is known for its location on a high stone hill that provides an incredible view of the coast. It was built to protect against pirate attacks and is overlooked from the south side of the city.

The Conception Fortress (Fortaleza de la Concepción) is located in the city of Cartagena. This fortress has ancient roots and was used to defend the city against attacks. It offers wonderful views of the city and port of Cartagena.

The Guadalest Fortress (Castillo de Guadalest) is located in the city of Guadalest, which is known for its unique location and beauty, and the San Jose Fortress is located on a cliff above the city. It was built in the 18th century to protect against Algerian pirates. The fortress offers beautiful views of Guadalest and its surroundings.

Castillo de Guadalest

Spanish festivals as world cultural heritage

A large number of festivals in Spain have been included in the UNESCO list as intangible cultural heritage of this country. The WTG Spain team decided to also briefly talk about this type of culture in Spain in this article.

The Patronage Festival (La Fiesta de Patum) is held in the city of Berga in Catalonia. It is one of the oldest and most impressive folklore holidays. It is held annually for eight days. And during the celebrations, the city streets are filled with color, music and dancing. The main element of the festival is the Patum, which will include various theatrical productions, masks, lights and other performances reflecting ancient local traditions.

The Falcon Festival (Las Fallas) is the most famous and largest festival of Spain, which attracts millions of visitors from all over the world. It is held in Valencia every year from March 15 to 19. Humor, satire and fire form the basis of this celebration, in which most of the inhabitants of Valencia participate, filling the whole city with fun and excitement for several days. Large groups of satirical papier-mâché sculptures – Fayyas – are displayed in the largest squares and streets, while boisterous parades and spectacular fireworks welcome spring. Everything culminates on the night of March 19, cremá , when all the Fayás are set on fire, except for the ninot, the best sculpture of the year, which will take its place in the Fayás Museum in Valencia.

The Patio Festival (El Festival de los Patios) takes place in the city of Córdoba during the second week of May. The main feature of the festival is the opening of private courtyards (patios), decorated with flowers and traditional Andalusian architectural elements. It reflects the rich cultural context of Córdoba and its tradition in the use of interior spaces, which become a place of meeting and recreation for local residents.

Flamenco Festival (El Flamenco) in Andalusia. Flamenco, as a musical genre and dance, is not only the most famous element of Andalusian culture, but also an important symbol of Spain's national heritage. This festival is recognized by UNESCO. Shows the importance of flamenco as an artistic expression and a way of communication between people through music and dance.

Spanish festivals

Significance of sports in the culture in Spain

Sports in Spanish culture and traditions play an important role and have deep historical roots that are reflected in various aspects of society. Spanish culture facts and the direct role of sports in it impressed us! We will share this with you.

Football is the Spanish national passion! It is the most popular sport in all regions of this sunny country. The Spanish are proud of their football teams, such as:

  • Real Madrid,
  • Barcelona,
  • Atletico Madrid,
  • Girona and others.

They have a great influence on culture and society. The matches of La Liga and the Spanish national team gather a large number of fans and become important events for the country.

Football is almost like a religion, and even if you don't like the sport, you can't escape it. There is always a match to watch, and it is customary to watch a football match at home with friends, in bars or at the stadium. You will definitely feel a rush of atmosphere watching people cheering, singing and shouting while wearing their team's jerseys.

One of Spanish culture examples is also the support of a healthy lifestyle. And all because of sports such as running, swimming, tennis, golf and others. The country is also host to numerous international sporting events, such as the Cycling Tour of Spain (La Vuelta), the Madrid Open tennis tournament and others. In general, sport in Spanish culture is not only a form of physical activity, but also an important element of identity, cultural expression and a way of communication between generations.

Spanish football. Football club Girona

Clothing and fashion in Spanish culture

Spanish fashion is an expression of the country's rich cultural heritage, combining traditional elements and modern trends. This synthesis creates a unique style that reflects historical influences and contemporary preferences.

Spanish culture clothes are as follows:

  • Flamenco costumes are a symbol of Spanish culture. Women wear bright dresses with ruffles and frills, which makes them attractive and expressive. Traditionally, these dresses have a narrow cut that flares downwards, creating spectacular waves during the dance. Men usually wear classic suits with high belts and hats.
  • Costumes for the Moros and Cristianos festivals. These costumes reflect historical battles between Moors and Christians. They include elements of Moorish and medieval style, with rich ornaments and bright colors. Festivals are accompanied by parades where participants wear these costumes, recreating historical events.
  • Regional costumes, which the whole country is famous for, are real Spanish cultural examples. They reflect local traditions and culture. In Catalonia, for example, men wear a "barretina" (red cap) and "sarau" (trousers). In Andalusia, women wear a "bestido corto" (short dress) and men wear a "trahe de luce", the famous bullfighting costume.

The Mediterranean style, characterized by light fabrics and bright colors, is very popular. Youth fashion in Spain includes elements of street style, such as sneakers, denim and printed t-shirts. This style is a reflection of urban life and the influence of global trends.

Spain is also home to many famous brands such as Balenciaga and Zara. These brands influence global fashion trends by offering stylish clothes made of high-quality materials.

Brands based in Spain

BRAND DESCRIPTION
Zara One of the most famous mass clothing and accessories brands in the world, known for its fashion collections for women, men and children.
Mango An international brand that offers stylish and fashionable clothes for women, men and teenagers, as well as accessories and shoes.
Pull&Bear Part of the Inditex group, like Zara, this brand specializes in youth fashion and casual wear.
Stradivarius Another brand from Inditex aimed at the youth market with an emphasis on fashionable clothing and accessories.
Massimo Dutti An upscale brand that offers quality and classic clothing for men, women and children, as well as accessories.
Desigual Known for its bright and colorful designs, this brand offers an unconventional approach to fashion and accessories.
Bershka A youth brand that is also owned by Inditex and specializes in casual fashion and accessories.
Uterqüe A brand that offers stylish accessories, shoes and various wardrobe items for modern women.
Custo Barcelona Known for its vibrant prints and designs, this brand produces fashionable clothing for men, women and children.

In recent years, ecological fashion has been gaining popularity in Spain. Local designers are increasingly using sustainable materials and supporting local manufacturers. This not only reduces the impact on the environment, but also supports traditional crafts.

Historical and cultural exchange between Spain and Great britain and impact of globalization on Spanish culture

Historical and cultural exchanges between Spain and Great Britain have a multifaceted history that includes political connections, trade, cultural interactions and contemporary dynamics of globalization.

The Anglo-Spanish Wars of the 16th and 18th centuries, particularly the Spanish Armada of 1588 and later conflicts such as the Barbary Wars, reflect the political tensions between the two powers. But Great Britain and Spain were key participants in trade networks in the early modern period, particularly through the Spanish Empire and colonial possessions. The wealth of history and joint events creates a special climate of mutual understanding and dialogue between peoples.

The Spanish Golden Age (especially the work of Miguel de Cervantes and Lope de Vega) greatly influenced English literature. Literary translations, such as those of Don Quixote and other works, played an important role in mutual cultural exchange. The growth of tourism from Great Britain to Spain promotes cultural exchange and mutual understanding. Tourists discover Spanish traditions, cuisine and art.

So, if you like the culture, style and traditions of Spain, we invite you to come to this country and maybe even buy a house here. You can have a look at the available options for properties in Spain on our website. Our WTG Spain team will help you choose exactly what you have been dreaming of for a long time! Because, the truth is, the comfort and quality of life in Spain deserves your attention.

FAQ

What is Spanish culture?

Spanish culture encompasses a rich spectrum of traditions, art, music, cuisine and customs that have been formed over the centuries. From flamenco in Andalusia to the famous bullfights in Madrid, each region has its own unique characteristics. Interesting fact: in Valencia, the Las Faillas festival takes place every year, where huge figures made of papier-mâché are set on fire, symbolizing rebirth and a new beginning.

What are some examples of Spanish cultural practices?

Examples of Spanish culture are flamenco dance, siesta and the tradition of tasting tapas. From the passionate rhythms of flamenco to the exquisite tapas bars, every aspect of life is steeped in history and unique customs. Interesting fact: Spain is the only country where siesta is officially considered part of the working day in some regions.

What are the key aspects of Spanish art and architecture?

Spain's art and architecture is known around the world, with iconic examples such as the works of Picasso, Gaudí's Sagrada Familia and the Alhambra Palace. From the revolutionary Cubism of Picasso to the unique organic forms of Gaudi, and to the Moorish masterpiece in Granada - the Alhambra, each of these examples illustrates the richness and diversity of Spain's cultural heritage. Interesting fact: the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Barcelona had been built for more than 140 years and it is still not finished, but it is already included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

How does Spanish culture differ in different regions?

Spanish culture varies greatly across regions, each boasting their own unique traditions, dialects, cuisine and festivals. For example, Catalonia speaks Catalan and celebrates the Festival of Human Towers (Castels), flamenco and bullfighting are popular in Andalusia, and traditional sports competitions are held in the Basque Country, where Basque is spoken. Fun fact: Valencia hosts the Las Faillas festival every March, during which giant papier-mâché figures are set on fire in a spectacular final fire ceremony.

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