Typical Spanish customs you simply must know about while studying Spanish

Culture and Gastronomy

Every country has its own customs and traditions.  The thing is, we never realise they are there until we leave our country to travel to another.  This also happens in Spain, and many foreigners are often surprised at some of customs the Spanish perform every day, sometimes involuntarily.  This can surprise those who don´t live in Spain if they are not used to them or they were unaware of their existence.  Therefore, we will tell you in this article of some of the typical Spanish customs so that you are not caught out when you start an Españolé language course.

Meal times

In Spain, almost everything starts later than what you´re used to.  You will see this above all with lunch and dinner times; lunch time might usually begin at 2pm and dinner might not start until 9.30pm.  Shops close later, and bars and restaurants usually close in the small hours of the morning because it´s normal that after a good dinner that people want to go on talking (la sobremesa).

What is the `sobremesa´?

The sobremesa can go on for as long as lunch or dinner, and on many occasions for even longer.  We are talking about that time after lunch or dinner, when coffee or a liqueur is taken in a relaxed way, enjoying the conversation with friends or family and catching up on the news – socially, personally, politically, etc.

The siesta

Is there anyone who has not heard that in Spain people have a siesta?  It´s very common after lunch for Spanish people to lie out on the sofa or the bed and take a nap for a while – how long depends on the person.   The siesta is a ritual performed every day possible and serves as a sort of therapy to rest, relax and hold out for longer at night because ……… in Spain, and especially in Valencia, the night time is lived to the full!

This famous custom has migrated little by little, and it´s no longer just the Spanish who do it.  You can be absolutely certain when you come to Spain some day that you will want to have a siesta!

How do the Spanish greet each other?

The Spanish are known for being charming and affectionate, and it´s true.  The most usual way of saying `hello´ to people is by giving them two kisses, even though you may not know them.  Likewise, it is common to say goodbye to people in a group with two kisses more.  So, if Spanish people never cease to give you kisses, it´s fine – it´s just their way of saying `hello´.

Celebrating festivals

Spanish people love their festivals, and that is why Spain is one of the countries with the greatest number of festivals in Europe.  They are celebrated nationally, regionally, locally and even at a neighbourhood level.  The aim is to have a good time and have fun with those closest to you.  The most famous and those which most appeal to visitors are Fallas in Valencia, the Feria de Sevilla and the San Fermines in Pamplona.

`Tapas y birras´

It´s very common in the evenings when a Spanish person speaks about meeting up to have `something´.  This `something´ will be to go to a bar and have a beer (una birra) and some tapas (also called `pinchos´).  This is the singular intention of the Spanish because they do it week in week out, whether midweek or not.  We´ve already said that they love a party, and any excuse is good to meet up with friends and relieve the stress of the day-to-day routine.

Seeing in the New Year: bell chimes and grapes

If your visit is during the New Year celebrations, it is important you know about the famous custom that 99% of Spanish people carry out.  Usually families and friends get together in front of the television and wait for twelve midnight.  The usual practice is to put one grape in the mouth for every chime of the bells marking the new year, meaning a total of twelve grapes at the end!  It´s great fun and a good way to get the new year off to a good start.

The Mediterranean diet

As we told you in the article about typical Spanish dishes, people eat very well in this country.  The diet is Mediterranean, which means you will eat in a balanced and healthy way during your visit to Spain.  The jewel in the Mediterranean diet is olive oil, and everything is prepared with it, from salad dressings to grilled vegetables.

Spanish culture is truly wonderful, and as well as that it is very easy to adapt some of its customs (the siesta above all).  Don´t think twice about learning Spanish with Españolé courses and immerse yourself in Spanish culture during your visit.

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