6 Interesting Facts about Spanish Culture
From the fiestas, to the beaches, to the artwork of famous Spanish artists like Picasso and Miró, Spain has a lot to offer any sort of traveller. Spanish culture is just as fascinating as the nation’s coastlines and museums, and probably much more nuanced! Even if you spent years in Spain you most likely wouldn’t be able to uncover every aspect of the country’s vibrant traditions, but that doesn’t mean you won’t try, right? We’re here to help (and get you started on that journey to discovering Spanish culture) with a few interesting facts about Spain and the Spanish way of life.
1. Nudity is legal in Spain
Yep, we thought we’d start off with a bang! According to some people, nudity is legal in the country due to its mainly Mediterranean climate and very hot summers. But just because you’re allowed to walk around in the nude, it doesn’t mean people do it whenever, wherever. It would be very out of the ordinary to spot someone strolling through central Barcelona without any clothes on, but lying out on the beach naked, for example, is commonplace. People won’t bat an eye or even look twice. I mean, how else would you get an even tan?
2. Religion is important
In the days of yore a whopping 98% of Spain’s population considered themselves Roman Catholics. In the modern age these numbers have drastically declined to less than 40%, but that doesn’t mean religion isn’t an important part of Spanish culture. The number of people volunteering in and attending important religious festivals like those that take place during Easter Week is certainly a testament to that. It’s obvious that religion and culture go hand in hand and even those who aren’t practising Catholics tend to still celebrate the traditions that stretch back hundreds of years.
3. The first ‘novel’ is Spanish
Perhaps you’ve heard of a little piece of work called Don Quixote by a certain writer named Miguel Cervantes. Not only was Cervantes Spanish, but he’s credited with having written the first modern novel way back in 1605. Even better, in 2002 Salman Rushdie and a whole bunch of other well-known authors got together and voted Don Quixote to be ‘the most meaningful book of all time’. With a title like that, it’s no wonder the Spaniards are so proud of their writers and artists!
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4. Time is not of the essence
Locals love taking it easy in Spain and rushing around from place to place is not very fashionable in Spanish culture. It seems that everything in Spain happens a little bit later, like having lunch at 2pm, or being sure not to show up to a party before midnight. Could this be why the country has one of the highest life expectancy ages in the world (82)? According to a 2013 study, Spaniards devote roughly 16 hours out of every 24 to leisure, eating, sleeping, or drinking, so it’s very likely the laid back lifestyle has something to do with the Spanish penchant for living long, healthy lives!
5. Wild and wacky fiestas
While religious fiestas are a big deal in Spain, locals don’t limit themselves to just those. Spain is home to some of the wackiest, weirdest festivals in the world. Whether you’re dressing in white and chucking talcum powder at each other in the Los Indianos festival, or pelting people with tomatoes in La Tomatina, there really is no lack of crazy activities to take part in in Spain. Did I mention El Colacho? It’s a festival that involves jumping over babies. Didn’t I warn you some of these were pretty wacky?
6. Girl power rules
While Spain is known for having high unemployment rates, it’s heartening to know that around 40% of new businesses in the country are in fact set up by female entrepreneurs! And while old traditions dictate that individuals should carry their father’s last name, these days gender equality is changing that in favour of the mother’s surname instead. Sounds like the girls are taking over in Spain!
What are some of your favourite facts about Spain? Do you have any insider knowledge on local traditions and customs? Share it with us below!