Culture of Spain Essay

Culture of Spain


Uniquely diverse and rich fields are incorporated in the modern Spanish culture. As such, covering the culture of the whole country within a specific period is almost impossible. The existing Spanish culture originated from the domination of this country by some people for over a thousand years ago. The culture of these people is indicated by the ancient castles, ruins, language, festivals, art and music. Stanton notes that Spain is a country that follows its traditions steadfastly. People in Spain pledge loyalty to the region where they come from more than they do to their national government (1). There is cultural diversity in this country and this diversity is based on regions’ autonomous which is the basis of Spain. Every Spanish culture depicts a spectacular identity that is created from the characters of the people. However, this ends up with a celebration in the whole country or region. The aim of this study is to expound different customs that the culture of Spain depicts.

Religions and festivities

Spain has remained a strong Catholic state for some time. Christianity was introduced by the Romans in Spain. Christianization continued until the Romans were invaded by the Muslims from the Northern part of Africa. Nevertheless, Christian insurgency won and they expelled the Muslims out of Spain. Spain was ruled by King Ferdinand from 1400 to 1500. At this time, he ordered Spaniards to transform into Roman Catholics (Lior and Steele 6). Consequently, other religious groups were compelled to adapt Roman Catholicism but others opted to get out of this country. Over 97% of Spaniards are still Roman Catholics up to now although non-Catholics are allowed to practice any religion openly. Nevertheless, all Spaniards irrespective of the faith that they practice live in a catholic surrounding or environment. This comprises of shrines, churches as well as artistic heritage that is referred to by the religion. The basis of the national culture of the Spanish is Catholic environment. Therefore, visitors and citizens must understand this environment. Saints are honored by Christians who go for pilgrimages which entail seeing their statues. An example that can illustrate this is the belief that Mary’s statue brings good luck.

Festivals or fiestas are usually held by the Spaniards. These are either secular or religious. They are held throughout every year in urban settlements and rural areas. Businesses are usually closed during fiestas and people take part in dancing and eating the entire night. Additionally, attendants call one another Dona or Don and then the person’s first name. Semana Santa, Nochebuena and Navidad are some of the fiestas of the Spaniards. Most of them have a Catholicism attachment. There is a fiesta for every city and this is held in the honor of their special cultural identity. An example of this is a fiesta that is held in Pamplona city in honor of patron saints. Bulls that run in the streets are the most interesting part of the festival. People wearing white clothes wait for charging bulls which chase them via narrow streets (Lior and Steele 10). Residents come together in the Barcelona City during the Day of Saint George which is celebrated on 23rd April. They celebrate love this day. The entire nation is usually at a standstill during the public holidays for celebrations. Spaniards observe holidays strictly without extension in case the day comes on the weekend.

Urbanism and use of space

Spain as a nation started from the early small tribal groups at the time of the rule of the Romans. The other social and cultural progressions emerged from the presence of the Romans. Usually, the Spaniards were living in settlements that were tightly clustered. These structures’ concentration caused urban centers’ emergence. In Spain, majority of the rural areas comprised of stores, dwelling houses, churches, schools, pastures and gardens. The types of settlements are associated with the locality. Most houses in the rural areas are built traditionally and they host both humans and animals. This settlement is not preferred by most Spaniards.

In places with dispersed settlements, people mostly practices livestock keeping and mixed cultivation. However, most Spaniards hate living in isolation. In the rural areas, people have multi-family villages. Stones, bricks, and timber are the most preferred building materials. Most Spain cities including Valencia, Barcelona and Madrid attract the rural populace. Each villager would like to live in the cities because services and opportunities are available there. Monuments and palaces are located away from rural homes and these show the architecture of the Spaniards. This country prides itself for having a spectacular Islamic architecture that includes the Alhambra which is found in Granada and Great Mosque situated in Cordoba.


The traditional food of the Spaniards emerged at the period of the agrarian revolution. They remain common and their preparation entails the use of hands and fresh ingredients from the market are used. Different areas in Spain have their cuisines. Comida, which is a family meal, is preferred by the Spaniards. This can be taken with colleagues and friends. Food sharing boosts good relationships. As such, seeing a person eating alone at a place where people eat from or drinking alone in a Spanish bar is unusual.  Members of a family take breakfast at varying times on the basis of their work schedules. People take mid-day meals at around 2.00 pm. This is the main meal of the day. Individuals travel home where they take comida before returning to work. Siesta is very important and it is part of the Spanish customs that is recognized by all Spaniards. People rest at this time and it lasts from 1.30 to 5 o’clock.

Drinking and eating is a common way through which the Spaniards spend time together. It usually happens during special events and every day. Christmas and Easter are among the common religious events which bring friends and families together. Weddings and birthdays are also great opportunities during which people eat together. People also gather in social groups during leisure time and they enjoy drinks and foods together. There are also table customs that are observed in the Spaniards culture. Hosts are allowed to be the first ones to eat. The guests are motioned by the host to their seats prior being served meals.

Social stratification

Individuals’ achievements determine the social classes that they belong to. There are three classes in the Spain society. These include the lower, the middle and the upper classes. Families with members who can afford money for hiring babysitters who looks after their kids as they go to work belong to the upper social class. These are represented by large home owners who have expensive furniture. Families that send children to public or private schools yet they do not have much possession similar to those of the families in the upper class represent the middle social class. Families whose members perform laborious jobs with children attending public schools belong to the lower social class. Majority of the lower social class families cannot afford hiring a babysitter. They also struggle to meet their necessary needs.

Professions and occupations also illustrate social stratification. Nevertheless, there is interaction among social classes. People interact in bars and hotels regardless of the social classes that they belong to. Apart from family inheritance, education provides a social advancement’s platform. Urban and rural settlements have differences which create distinction in the society. In Spain, farming is honored as a self-employed trade although it is not valued much. As such, traders and farmers residing in the Spain’s countryside belong to the lower status. Material worth exhibits social stratification. This includes jewelries, leisure, clothing and homes. There is a large gap between the poor and the rich at the economic level in Spain. There is a class for the Spain’s royal family. Although this country endeavors to achieve equality, there are groups that are discriminated along tribal and gender lines. Spanish women still face sexual harassment and low wages.

Political life

The national identity of Spain was acquired when Christians chose to unite in order to fight Islam. Parliamentary monarchy governs Spain and this includes the bicameral legislature. The state is headed by a monarch who performs the duties of selecting a government’s head (Hay 104). Absolute powers are vested on the King. From the time when General Franco died, the state has been headed by the King. He also promotes order within the government. The government is headed by a prime minister from a majority party. Many parties are allowed to take part in the elections.

Political resignations in Spain are virtually unheard off. This is because people see resignation as a serious political weakness due to the fact that parliamentary democracy was embraced in this country following Franco’s death in 1975. Dictatorship was the ruling style in Spain before this time. Since 1923 all the way to 1931, a political model that General Primo de Rivera had designed was used to rule Spain. This leader was associated with Spain’s modernization (Magone 9). Actually, this political system was fighting for workers’ rights and this was something rare in a kingdom that was ruled through dictatorship. More optimism came with the Second Republic because it brought a separation of the state from the Church since it restricted Catholicism. Opposition kept growing and this caused a Civil War. The uprising was led by General Franco. On taking over, Franco established the totalitarian state that aimed at eliminating enemies.

Spain was influences by the experience of the Portuguese making it embrace democracy. This led to the smooth succession to Juan Carlos I from Franco (Magone 15). Free market replaced the protectionism system that was practiced under Franco. Modern Spain is politically organized into 17 “autonomous regions” as well as 50 provinces. In Spain, leadership is considered an accomplishment of a person. It is supported by family connections. Party membership relies on the ability of the government to provide jobs to the citizens. The responsibility of guarding villages is under the informal controls in the society. Military officers are from the higher classes in the society although people join the army voluntarily. Young men have the freedom to establish social groups within their villages on the basis of their age.

Gender roles and statuses

In Spain, family is a very important institution for both females and males. Family is even crucial than work since it promotes collectivity instead of individualism. Roles are shared among the Spaniards on the basis of social statuses and genders. The contracts of traditional gender asserts the main women’s role which at the center of a family. Men on the other hand are the breadwinners in the family (Calvo-Salguero, Martínez-de-Lecea, and Aguilar-Luzón 122). Agriculture is practiced as the major activity in the rural areas. Men play the heaviest tasks and women attend to house chores and gardens. Women and men can perform any task in professional farming and herding.

Managing domestic economies and raising children is the responsibility of married couples. Women and men across Spain are allowed to engage in leisure activities together even in the public places. Culture permits men to practice politics in their public life while religious activities are observed by women as well as looking after the children in their homes. Old women servants mainly provide household help. Culture depicted women as the homemakers. However, women are allowed to run businesses in the modern culture and they are also employed in different professions. Women also engage in politics. Property inheritance is allowed by the Castilian law and they can also dispose their property whenever they please (Coolidge 41). Equal sharing of inheritance is also allowed by the law among members of a family irrespective of the gender. Women retain surnames in most regions even after their marriage. Family titles’ succession is allowed for royal women if there are no brothers in their family.

Marriage and family

Spanish culture requires marriage to be a partnership in which each partner’s input is important. Owning property was traditionally vital than love at the time of courtship. People were encouraged to court for long and breaking marriage ties was not allowed. Remarriage of women who cannot bear children due to their old age and divorce are abhorred by the Spaniards’ culture. Nevertheless, weddings and these customs are considered as special events and they attract a large gathering of guests. Gender culture is a characteristic of Spain and family relationships are encouraged as well as individualism levels (alvo-Salguero, Martínez-de-Lecea, and Aguilar-Luzón 121). Families display a collectivist culture which gives life meaning while bringing prosperity and personal happiness. Work is not considered by culture and independent aspect in family and work time cannot compete with the family time. In Spain, the attitude that families have towards life is positive. Studying is encouraged for children so that they can be successful in life.

Language, arts and humanities

The establishment of Latin language followed the Roman conquest. This led to the emergence of Iberian languages. The language that is used the most in Spain is the Castilian Spanish. This is used mostly in courts, offices and schools. Art is highly valued by the Spaniards. They visit architectural monuments and art museums regularly just to admire artifacts. Most Spanish artists are treated like celebrities. Humanities and fine arts are highly valued in universities and professional academies. Decorative arts are an important aspect of the national legacy in Spain. They are displayed in the museums within Spain as well as other regions of the world. There are strong architectures that are developed by the Spaniards for painting and sculptures. Their mode and designs resemble national or regional identity.

Musical instruments, dances and songs are perceived in a unique way more so in the Andalucía region. The impression that is created by musical expressions is completely different from power resistance and hierarchy. Flamenco refers to a dancing type whose characteristic is hands clapping and stomping. This dance includes playing a guitar and dancers depict emotions. Movies are also loved by the Spaniards and a lot of time is allocated to it by cultural analysts who spend time studying the film industry in Spain. Soccer is loved by many Spaniards and they go to the fields to watch their teams playing. There are clubs where membership to Barcelona FC is passed down the generation tree.


The culture of the Spaniards still values ancient Spain’s customs although they have been transformed with the modern technology and novelty. This culture was influenced by the Romans. Roman Catholicism is the basis of most customs of the Spanish. Historically, a lot of emphasis was put on relationships in the family in Spain because collectivity was valued than individualism. This is depicted by the way people leave workplaces to have midday meals with families. Sisters and brothers share inherited properties equally. There is a wide gap between the lower and upper social classes but there are free interactions among people in these classes during public events. Artworks and decorations are valued by the Spaniards because they are important aspects of their national heritage. People abandon their activities just to celebrate public holidays. There are different cultures because of autonomous regions in Spain and every culture exhibits its exceptional identity that is created from their attributes but these are distinguished in the country or the whole region.

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Works Cited

Calvo-Salguero, Antonia, José-María Salinas Martínez-de-Lecea, and María del Carmen Aguilar-Luzón. “Gender And Work–Family Conflict: Testing The Rational Model And The Gender Role Expectations Model In The Spanish Cultural Context.” International Journal Of Psychology 47.2 (2012): 118-132. Web. 23 Jan. 2014.

Coolidge, Grace E. Guardianship, Gender and the Nobility in Early Modern Spain. Farnham, Surrey, England: Ashgate, 2011. Print.

Hay, Colin. European Politics. Oxford : Oxford Univ. Press, 2007. Print.

Lior, Noa, and Tara Steele. Spain. New York: Crabtree Pub. Co, 2002. Print.

Magone, José M. Contemporary Spanish Politics. London: Routledge, 2004. Print.

Stanton, Edward F. Culture and Customs of Spain. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 2002. Print.