Customs and traditions
The Spaniards are usually described as hospitable
and welcoming. In particular, in the autonomous regions
such as Catalonia and the Basque region, the residents
are often proud of their food and culture. They look
primarily like Catalans or Basques, rather than
Spaniards. The family is important in Spain, which is
especially noticeable in times of crisis.
In private contexts, Spaniards almost always greet
cheek pussies, one on each cheek, even though one does
not know each other. These are light kisses that
sometimes barely touch the cheek. Kind kisses are given
between women, between men and women and to children.
Men rarely kiss each other, but take a hand or thump
each other in the back.
Overview of the capital city of Spain, including information about its population, economy, geography, history and map.
In working life or in official contexts, Spaniards
usually greet by handshake, but if you get to know each
other you can later switch to cheek kisses. When
Spaniards meet new people, are seen in official contexts
or if the other person is older, it is best to use Ni (Usted)
instead of Du (Tu).
Spaniards are generally interested in visitors from
other countries and ask about the person's home country
and what he or she likes about Spain. The conversations
can be about food, cultural habits and more, but rarely
about work. It is unusual, as in Sweden, to start a
conversation with asking what the other person is
Pride and humor
Spaniards are often proud of their food, their
football and other Spanish culture. For many, pride
first and foremost applies to their own region, for
example in Catalonia where Spaniards from other parts of
the country are called "immigrants". Pride over one's
own region is especially true in the Basque Country and
Galicia. Learning a few words in the regional language
is highly valued. If you live in the region for an
extended period of time, it is a good idea to try to
learn both Spanish and the regional language.
Being punctual is important in the northern regions,
as in Catalonia and the Basque country, but has less
significance in Andalucia in the south. Humor is often
used to initiate meetings or regular conversations - you
want to avoid appearing too serious.
At work and in official contexts, Spaniards dress
quite formally. Women generally dress more feminine than
in Sweden. You walk in with outer shoes in each other's
If you are invited home to Spaniards, you can bring a
small gift to the hostess, such as chocolate, cookies,
wine or brandy. If there are children in the home, it is
appreciated to bring candy or small gifts for them as
Meals and typical food
Lunch is usually the biggest meal of the day.
Breakfast is light, as is dinner if you don't eat it in
a restaurant or have guests. The breakfast usually
consists of coffee, tea or - for the children - thick
chocolate milk, served with French bread and jam,
croissants, muffins or some other sweet bread. The lunch
is eaten at 14 and sometimes consists of three dishes;
soup or salad for starters, a main course consisting of
meat, fish or chicken, and then dessert which is usually
fresh fruit everyday. In the late afternoon, a snack (merienda)
often consists of sandwich or some sweet bread. Dinner
is usually eaten late, at 20 or 21 hours. Everyday,
dinner can consist of sandwiches (bocadillos) with
different toppings, potato omelette (tortilla) or some
other light dish.
Spanish food is varied. What you eat depends to some
extent on what part of Spain you live: on the coasts
(especially in Galicia) a lot of seafood is eaten and in
the north inland, pots with beans and sausages or meat
are common. Olive and sunflower oil are essential in
Spanish cooking, while butter and cream are rarely used.
For most meals light bread is eaten. The Spanish small
dishes (tapas), the rice dish paella as well as tortilla
are known worldwide. Spain is also known for its red
wine, especially from Rioja, for the sherry from
Andalusia and for the sparkling white wine cava from
The family is often central, especially in times of
crisis when many have to rely on the family to survive.
The children often stay with their parents for a long
time, which is partly due to high youth unemployment,
low wages and expensive housing.
Holidays and national symbols
Spain has both national and a number of regional
holidays. In addition to the Catholic holidays, the
National Day is celebrated on October 12 in memory of
Christofer Columbus's ascent in America in 1492. It is
also celebrated in Latin America and the United States.
On December 6, the Constitution Day is celebrated in
memory of the referendum on Spain's new constitution in
The Spanish celebrate Christmas, but most of them
still hand out Christmas presents traditionally on the
thirteenth day of January 6 - the day when the three
wise men came to the Jesus child with their gifts. The
Christmas presents are handed out by the vice men (los
reyes). Influences from the rest of the western world
and the commercial impact have meant that more and more
people have changed to Santa and Christmas presents on
Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, and some give out both
New Year's Eve is celebrated with family or with
friends and acquaintances. According to tradition, you
drink cava and eat a grape for each time when the new
year is ringed.
On National Day and at other festivals, the
red-yellow Spanish flag is raised (see the introduction
page for Spain in the Country Guide). The colors come
from the oldest Spanish kingdoms: Aragon, Castile, León
and Navarre. On National Day you can also hear the
national anthem from 1770, Marcha Real (the royal
march), which has no words; until 1975 the text used by
General Franco was used, but it was then removed and no
new ones have yet been agreed. It is available in a
longer version (intended for the king) and a shorter
version (for example at sporting events) and you can
hear it online.
The king's mother-in-law risks long imprisonment
According to Spanish media, King Juan Carlos's son-in-law Iñaki Urdangarín is
suspected of crimes, which in total can be punished by 23 years in prison. This
applies, among other things, to embezzlement, fraud and tax offenses.
Mas announces Catalan referendum on independence
Catalonia's leader Artur Mas announces that the region will hold a referendum
on independence from Spain on November 9, 2014. The Madrid government rejects
this. When Spanish King Juan Carlos holds Christmas on TV and appeals for
national unity, the Catalan public service channel does not broadcast the
speech. All parties in Catalonia agree on how the question in the referendum
should be formulated, and the date on which the vote will be held.
Abortion ban is planned
The government also plans to prohibit abortions except in cases where a woman
becomes pregnant during a rape, the fetus is damaged or where the woman's
physical and mental health is in danger. This raises protests across the
country. According to the current abortion law from 2010, a woman can freely
choose whether she wants to have an abortion until the 14th week of pregnancy.
The Catholic Church is pushing for the law to be changed, but opinion polls
indicate that a meager majority of Spaniards want to keep the legislation as it
is. However, the government does not have any major problems getting the law
through parliament, where the People's Party (PP) has its own majority.
Government new demonstration laws, threat to freedom of speech?
At the end of the month, the government decides to tighten the fine for
demonstrations that are held without permission and which lead to violence. The
highest penalties, up to EUR 600,000, should include those who interfere with
electoral processes. It is also proposed to be punishable by burning the Spanish
flag, insulting the state and drinking alcohol in public places. Masking bans
for those participating in protests should also be introduced. The opposition
and many non-governmental organizations strongly criticize the bill, which they
believe restricts freedom of expression. Some conservative commentators are also
critical of the proposal.
The king's son-in-law is being investigated for eco crimes
A number of properties belonging to King Juan Carlos's son-in-law are being
held by the court. The mother-in-law is being investigated for financial crime
and the tax authorities are to examine the wife, Princess Cristina's affairs.
53 are convicted of corruption
53 people are sentenced to fines and imprisonment for up to 11 years for
corruption in the so-called Caso Malaya (Malayan Falls). It is local politicians
and officials in Marbella who have embezzled municipal funds and received bribes
to grant building permits in, for example, protected areas, give public
contracts and more.
The Socialist Party demands Rajoy's departure
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy explains to the congressionally elected Congress
that the bribery allegations against him by the People's Party's former
treasurer (see July 2013) are false and that he has not
received any black money. The Social Democratic opposition claims that Rajoy is
lying, that the People's Party won elections with the help of illegal funding
for two decades and that Rajoy must resign.
The newspaper accuses Rajoy of corruption
El Mundo magazine publishes what is said to be an original document, which
shows that Prime Minister Rajoy received bribes in 1997-1999. After publication,
the newspaper submits the document to a court. The pressure on Rajoy to resign
increases since former party treasurer Bárcenas said in the preliminary
investigation that he handed over € 25,000 to Rajoy as late as 2010. El Mundo
writes that the prime minister sent comforting and encouraging text messages to
Bárcenas after the scandal became known. However, Rajoy explains that he intends
to fulfill the mandate the Spanish people have given him. The PP government has
such a strong majority in Parliament that it cannot be cast in a vote of no
The IMF calls for efforts to create new jobs
According to the IMF, the crisis-hit Spanish economy is now making progress,
but the government is urged to step up efforts to create more jobs.
Demonstration against the monarchy
Thousands of people are demonstrating in Madrid demanding the abolition of
the monarchy and the introduction of a republic. The royal house has been
subjected to harsh criticism since the king's accusation was accused of
embezzlement (see December 2012) and his daughter, Princess
Cristina, was called for questioning.
Spain receives criticism from the European Court of Justice for lack of
protection for homeowners
The European Court of Justice states that Spanish law does not provide
sufficient protection for homeowners who cannot pay their loans and are evicted.
It is estimated that around 350,000 families have been evicted from their homes
in the wake of the financial crisis that began in 2008.
Over five million unemployed in Spain
New figures show that over five million people are unemployed, an increase of
328,000 people in one year.
Protests against evictions
Protesters in several cities demand a halt to evictions of people who cannot
pay their mortgages. The evictions have been followed by many suicides.
The PSOE demands that Rajoy resign after corruption revelations
The socialist opposition calls for Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's resignation
and demonstrations are held against him after details of major unreported
donations from construction companies to his party, the People's Party (PP). The
money must have been bribes that went to leading party representatives,
including Rajoy, during the years 1997-2008. The Prime Minister denies the
allegations, but the PP's opinion figures are falling. Prosecutors initiate
preliminary investigation against the party.
The Catalan regional parliament votes for independence
Catalonia's regional parliament votes for a symbolic declaration of
independence, but at the same time the regional government in Madrid is asking
for an additional € 9 billion in emergency loans in addition to the € 5 billion
requested by the Barcelona regional government in August 2012.
Lower interest rates, signs of economic recovery
Falling market interest rates for Spain are signs that the world's confidence
in the country's government finances has strengthened. Interest rates on
five-year bond loans fall to 3.99 percent.