Spanish Culture and Traditions: 7 Things You Must Know About the Culture of Spain if You Learn Spanish

Bienvenidos!

This is a journey through the Spanish culture: from siesta to bullfighting, you’ll find the 7 most important things and events and traditions we think you should know about the Spanish-speaking regions.

A YouTube channel called Sensational Spain made a very interesting video on culture shocks caused by Spain. Who would’ve thought? Check it now:

It doesn’t matter if you’re just travelling to a Spanish-speaking country, or you’re actually planning to stay for a longer time, Spanish culture has something to offer to you. For example, Spain is definitely a country where ancient traditions and modern influences come together and influences blend seamlessly.

In this blog post, we’ll explore 7 key elements that define Spanish culture: the restful siesta, the passionate flamenco, the flavorful tapas, the lively festivals, the historic (and controversial) bullfighting, the breathtaking art and architecture, and the diverse languages and Spanish dialects.

So, grab a cup of café con leche, sit back, and let’s go on a cultural exploration:

¡Vamos! (Let’s go!)

1. Siesta: a must-have in Spanish culture

The siesta is more than just a nap in Spain!

It has became a vital part of daily life, and although we’re all rushing nowadays, it’s still a must-have for a lot of people in Spain.

The siesta typically takes place between 2 PM and 5 PM. The midday break allows people to rest and escape the peak heat of the day.

Shops and businesses close, and the streets become a bit quieter. Everyone gets calm, and you can recharge before the lively evening activities. It’s actually a really good thing that has some strong scientific background to it.

SpanishEnglish
la siestathe siesta
descansarto rest
cerrar por la siestato close for the siesta
volver al trabajoto return to work

Talking about the siesta in a real conversation:

María: ¿Vas a tomar una siesta hoy? (Are you going to take a siesta today?)
Carlos: Sí, necesito descansar un poco antes de volver al trabajo. (Yes, I need to rest a bit before going back to work.)
María: Es una buena idea. La siesta siempre me ayuda a sentirme más fresco. (That’s a good idea. The siesta always helps me feel refreshed.)
Carlos: Definitivamente, es una tradición que me encanta. (Definitely, it’s a tradition I love.)

2. Flamenco: part of Spanish celebrations

Flamenco is a dance AND a music genre that originates from Spain. To be more precise, it evolved from the Andalusian version of the dance.

It’s full of emotional intensity, guitar strumming and with the movement, you can express everything there is about Spanish culture.

Flamenco’s roots are found in the Romani, Moorish, Andalusian, and to some extent, in Jewish traditions. Today, it’s more than entertainment: with this dance, you can tell the story of passion and joy. The performances often take place in venues called tablaos – tablao is the name used for the flamenco floor.

SpanishEnglish
el flamencoflamenco
bailarto dance
cante jondodeep song
el tablaoflamenco venue

Mentioning the flamenco could sound like this:

Ana: ¿Has visto alguna vez un espectáculo de flamenco? (Have you ever seen a flamenco show?)
Javier: Sí, fui a uno en Sevilla el año pasado. (Yes, I went to one in Seville last year.)
Ana: ¡Qué emocionante! El cante jondo siempre me pone la piel de gallina. (How exciting! The deep song always gives me goosebumps.)
Javier: A mí también. La pasión de los bailaores es impresionante. (Me too. The passion of the dancers is impressive.)

3. Tapas: the famous Spanish food culture

We can’t leave out tapas!

Tapas are small, savory dishes that are perfect for sharing with friends and family.

a real tapas bar is part of the spanish culture

The bite-sized delights can be anything from simple snacks like olives and cheese to creations such as patatas bravas (spicy potatoes) and gambas al ajillo (garlic shrimp).

The tradition of eating tapas is also known as “tapear“. Just as with flamenco, it’s not just about the act of eating itself, but also about social dining, and experiencing a variety of flavors in one meal.

Tapas bars are also pretty common: people come together to enjoy meals, Spanish food, drinks and even watch sports, or maybe talk about football in Spanish.

SpanishEnglish
tapastapas
tapearto go out for tapas
la sobremesaafter-dinner conversation
patatas bravasspicy potatoes

Tapas is an everyday topic in Spain and in other Spanish-speaking countries:

Elena: ¿Te gustaría ir a tapear esta noche? (Would you like to go out for tapas tonight?)
Luis: ¡Claro! Me encanta probar diferentes tapas. (Of course! I love trying different tapas.)
Elena: Podríamos empezar con unas patatas bravas y luego pedir gambas al ajillo. (We could start with some spicy potatoes and then order garlic shrimp.)
Luis: ¡Perfecto! También podemos disfrutar de una buena sobremesa. (Perfect! We can also enjoy some good after-dinner conversation.)

4. Festivals: a Spanish custom full of foods and drinks

Festivals are at the heart of Spanish culture.

They show the country’s love for celebration and community. Each region in Spanish and in other Spanish-speaking countries have their own unique traditions. Some of the most famous ones are like the tomato-throwing chaos of La Tomatina in Buñol, and then there’s Semana Santa (Holy Week) in Sevilla.

There are other festivals that are also popular like the Las Fallas in Valencia (this is where towering papier-mâché figures are burned), and the San Fermín festival in Pamplona – famous for the bull running event.

SpanishEnglish
las festividadesfestivals
Semana SantaHoly Week
La TomatinaThe Tomato Fight
feriafair

There are some important Spanish holidays and Spanish festival year around the clock but for now, we can focus on only one in the next example:

Sofía: ¿Vas a ir a las fiestas de San Fermín este año? (Are you going to the San Fermín festival this year?)
Miguel: No estoy seguro. La idea de correr con los toros me da un poco de miedo. (I’m not sure. The idea of running with the bulls scares me a bit.)
Sofía: Entiendo, pero las festividades son increíbles. La energía es contagiosa. (I understand, but the festivities are incredible. The energy is contagious.)
Miguel: Tal vez debería darle una oportunidad. (Maybe I should give it a chance.)

5. Bullfighting: a controversial take on a traditional Spanish event

Bullfighting is a controversial yet traditional spectacle in Spain.

It’s viewed by some people as an art form, and by others as a brutal practice, a torture for animals.

bullfighting is a controversial part of spanish culture

The bullfighting involves a matador (bullfighter) who is confronting a bull in a ritualized performance. The bullfighting is held in large arenas that are called plazas de toros, and the whole event is filled with ceremonial pageantry and dramatic tension.

The whole event and tradition is facing a growing opposition in recent years but it remains an important part of the Spanish culture.

SpanishEnglish
la corrida de torosbullfighting
el torerobullfighter
la plaza de torosbullring
el traje de lucesbullfighter’s costume

Spanish sentences with bullfighting included:

Isabel: ¿Qué piensas de la corrida de toros? (What do you think about bullfighting?)
Pedro: Es una parte importante de la cultura, pero también muy controversial. (It’s an important part of the culture, but also very controversial.)
Isabel: Sí, hay muchas opiniones diferentes al respecto. (Yes, there are many different opinions about it.)
Pedro: Personalmente, prefiero no participar, pero entiendo su significado cultural. (Personally, I prefer not to participate, but I understand its cultural significance.)

6. Art and architecture: the mesmerizing culture of Spain

Spain’s art and architecture are something different, aren’t they?!

Spain is full with artistic legacies, from surreal, organic forms of Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, to the powerful and emotive paintings of Picasso’s Guernica in Madrid.

Spanish architecture is a mix of Roman, Gothic, Moorish, Renaissance and Modernist influences – all of this shows how rich the Spanish history is.

There are other landmarks that are also worth a visit like the Alhambra in Granada or the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. If you want to visit these, check the best Spanish travel phrases, so you don’t get lost!

SpanishEnglish
arte y arquitecturaart and architecture
la Sagrada Familiathe Holy Family (Church)
el museomuseum
el pintorpainter

We can’t leave out the Sagrada Familia from a Spanish conversation:

Lucía: ¿Has visitado la Sagrada Familia en Barcelona? (Have you visited the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona?)
Alejandro: Sí, fue impresionante. La arquitectura de Gaudí es increíble. (Yes, it was impressive. Gaudí’s architecture is incredible.)
Lucía: Me encanta cómo combina elementos modernos con tradicionales. (I love how he combines modern and traditional elements.)
Alejandro: Es una obra maestra que refleja el espíritu artístico de España. (It’s a masterpiece that reflects the artistic spirit of Spain.)

7. Language and dialects: the golden age of languages?

And for the finale! What else than the Spanish language itself? (This is our favourite, to be honest.)

The Spanish language is one of the most spoken languages in the world: it has many dialects, many Spanish slangs or Mexican slangs, Spanish quotes to check out and more!

Spain is also a linguistic mosaic: while Castilian Spanish is the official language, other languages like Catalan in Catalonia, Galician in Galicia, and Basque in the Basque Country are also spoken.

And they are symbols of the regional identities and pride. These languages coexist and their native speakers are all proud of it!

SpanishEnglish
idioma y dialectoslanguage and dialects
el castellanoCastilian Spanish
el catalánCatalan
el vascoBasque

We have dedicated articles for Spanish dialects and, for example, Mexican Spanish, but let’s go over a real dialogue of how you could talk about them:

Marta: ¿Hablas algún dialecto además del castellano? (Do you speak any dialects besides Castilian Spanish?)
Pablo: Sí, hablo catalán porque crecí en Barcelona. (Yes, I speak Catalan because I grew up in Barcelona.)
Marta: ¡Qué interesante! Siempre he querido aprender un poco de gallego. (How interesting! I’ve always wanted to learn a bit of Galician.)
Pablo: Es genial. España tiene una riqueza lingüística impresionante. (It’s great. Spain has an impressive linguistic richness.)

Learn more about the culture in Spain with Conversation Based Chunking

This was just a sneak peek of what the Spanish culture has to offer to you. The first step to truly know and learn more about a culture is to start learning its language.

And if you want to learn Spanish, you’re at the right place! We have a method that not only focuses on learning the language itself but also on immersing yourself in the language by surrounding yourself with Spanish music, Spanish TV shows and much more.

If you sign up now, you’ll get your first Spanish Conversation Based Chunking Start Pack, and in this pack, you’ll explore an essential Spanish chunking list, you’ll see my favourite resources to learn the language, you’ll have access to our Full Practice Worksheet Library, and much more!

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With the Conversation Based Chunking method, you will most certainly learn Spanish and every important thing about the Spanish culture, too!

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