Understanding Spanish Culture - GoinGlobal Blog (2023)

Understanding Spanish Culture - GoinGlobal Blog (1)

Spanish culture and society reflect Spain's unique position at the crossroads of Europe, Africa and the Mediterranean and the many peoples who have inhabited Spain throughout its history.

Spain, the third largest country in Europe, remembers a turbulent past marked by imperialism, civil war and fascism. Since the death of General Francisco Franco in 1975, the country has experienced rapid and remarkable cultural, political, and social changes. Spain is a member of the European Union, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the World Trade Organization, as well as many other international organizations and Ibero-American organizations such as the Organization of Ibero-American States (OEI or Organization of Ibero-American States) .

The country is made up of 17 autonomous regions (administratively called autonomous communities or autonomous communities), including Andalusia, Catalonia, Galicia, the Basque Country (Euskal Herria), and the Canary and Balearic Islands, as well as two autonomous cities (Ceuta and Melilla) and small islands off the coast of Morocco known collectively as the Places of Sovereignty. Spanish regions have their own cultures and some also have their own official languages, including Catalan, Galician, Basque and Valencian. Spaniards strongly identify with their region of origin and even with their specific province of origin. Foreign visitors should be sensitive to this and show respect for different cultures.

people and values

Although predominantly conservative, Spanish society has always exhibited radical opposites. While it remains a traditional society in many ways, particularly in relation to religion, minorities, and the status of women, the country has driven progressive changes in other areas in recent decades. For example, it was one of the first countries to legalize same-sex marriage in 2005 and is now considered one of the most LGBTQ (Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender-Queer/Questioning)-friendly countries in the world.

Personal character and integrity are highly valued qualities, as is humility. The nuclear and extended family is the central social unit in Spain. Like many collectivist cultures, Spanish society places a high value on group affiliation: with a family, an organization, or a community. However, this does not extend to notions of greater social responsibility; Spaniards can also display fierce individualism and be suspicious of government and authority.

Spaniards place a high value on formal education and may be open to inquiring about their education. At the same time, don't brag about your education; Many Spaniards believe that those who went to a good school did so out of nepotism.


The vast majority of Spaniards are Catholic Christians, although today more than 26% of the population identifies as atheist or non-believer. Less than 2% of the population belongs to a religion other than Catholicism.

The importance of Christian traditions in Spanish culture is evident in most aspects of daily life, from street names to local festivals, city monuments, or the fact that most shops close. usually on Sundays (only during the Christmas shopping season are the shops open, usually closed). open all weekend).

It is not easy to find proper kosher or halal food or pork-free dishes in restaurants and supermarkets in some provincial cities and small towns in Spain (serranoham,also know asIberian Ham, considered a national culinary treasure).

Unlike other Christian countries, it is important to know that in Spain it is not December 25 (Christmas Day) when children receive gifts from Santa Claus or when family members exchange gifts. Instead, the Three Wise Men are believed to bring their Christmas presents to well-behaved children on the Biblical day of Epiphany (Epiphany, January 6). In fact, on the night of January 5 of each year, almost all cities in Spain celebrate the arrival of the Three Wise Men with gifts for families with spectacular parades.

time management

Life in Spain is best characterized by its leisurely pace. Although often delayed, things eventually get done. Foreign visitors should not be too upset by this and try to "swim with the flow". Everything happens later in Spain, from going to work to eating and sleeping.

Spain is seen as a culture of fluid time that values ​​personal relationships more than deadlines, which are considered flexible.

It is customary to have an extended lunch, including typical Spanish, from 1:30 or 2:00 p.m. to 4:30 or 5:00 p.m.Dessert(Table talk or dessert talk). spanishsiestathey are an outdated concept and a cultural cliché.


Spanish cuisine has a typically Mediterranean character, with the usual ingredients being olive oil, garlic, onion, tomato, pepper and shellfish. It also contains meat and animal products; Vegetarians and vegans may have a hard time in restaurants.

Typical Spanish dishes are zGazpacho(cold tomato soup),Tortilla(thick egg omelette with potatoes and fried in olive oil) andPaella(Rice with vegetables, meat or fish). The Spanish are also fans.to bite(long sandwiches usually filled with ham and cheese or other combinations of local ingredients) andTapas, little plates with plates like olives,ham(smoked ham), vegetables, meats, cheeses, seafood and many other traditional recipes served in small portions.

WeatherTapasOnce considered small bites to accompany alcoholic drinks, they are now a national favorite and many bars and restaurants offer a wide variety of dishes in small portions (Tapas) or in larger plates to share (foods). As a matter of fact,Kegel(To eat tapas) has become a defined verb and habit in the vocabulary of popular cooking.


Soccer is by far the most popular sport in Spain and borders on a national religion. The season lasts from mid-August to early June. Tennis and Formula 1 have also become great mass entertainment thanks to the popularity of Rafa Nadal and Fernando Alonso. Golf is very popular with business people and Spain is home to several luxury golf resorts.

Local and regional fiestas play an important role in Spanish life and represent strong elements of pride and a sense of identity for each community. There are hundreds of different popular fiestas (same word for fiesta and fiesta) throughout the year and in different parts of Spain and are taken very seriously by the locals. From the Three Kings parades in all the cities of the country to a great variety of fairs and festivals such as the traditional running of the bulls of San Fermín in Pamplona or the Tomatina tomato festival in Buñol, Valencia, the calendar of Spain is full of celebration and social distraction. .

linguistic competence

Spanish, a Romance language and a descendant of Vulgar Latin, is the mother tongue of 480 million people around the world.Cervantes Institute. It is the official language in Spain and 19 Latin American countries, as well as in African Equatorial Guinea. Spanish colonizers brought the language to the New World. Spanish is also one of the official languages ​​of the United Nations.

Although English is the language of international business and can help you find a job, doing business in Spain requires the ability to speak Spanish well. What is called Spanish is actually Castilian (castellano) and is in most cases the official language, as well as the language that most people in Spain are likely to speak or understand. The main exceptions to this rule are the autonomous communities of the Basque Country, Catalonia and Galicia, where the Basque language (vasco), Catalan (catalan, spoken by 17% of the population) and Galician (gallego) are also official languages. The Valencian community also has its own second official language (valoror Valencian), although some linguists consider it a Catalan dialect. It was not until 1939 that Francisco Franco banned all languages ​​exceptcastellanothat all the Spaniards began to speak it at the national level.

Although the ability of Spaniards to understand and speak English has improved significantly among the younger generation, the vast majority of Spaniards do not speak any foreign language. The amount of English spoken varies greatly by region or city and by audience.

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