Spanish Traditions

Moros y Cristianos – Traditions

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The festival of Moors and Christians has become one of the most representatives of the social life of Alicante, making it an attractive mixture of religiosity, strict label and controlled street festival. That is the case of San Blas, Villafranqueza, Altozano and José Antonio, where the streets are occupied by neighbors and friends willing to spend a few days of joy shared between music, parades and gunpowder. Friendship is an essential component of this celebration. Without that spirit the party would not exist. In quarters and kábilas almost everything is shared, where the food and the drink brings everyone together.

Fallas at Valencia

Valencias Fallas

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Each March, Valencia prepares to receive the spring from the 15th to 19th of March. The streets are filled with joy and bustle with the celebration of Las Fallas, the maximum exponent of the union of tradition, satire, art and feeling for the land. They burn everything bad to help reborn from their ashes to welcome a new season of the year. These festivities are also called Josephine festivals as they are celebrated in honor of St. Joseph, patron of carpenters, which was a very widespread guild in the city when they began to celebrate in the late nineteenth century. Origin: In the streets of the town guilds, on spring, night work was dispensed and the rustic parot (a wooden device to light) was burned at the door of each workshop. To feed the bonfire, the same artisans accumulated useless shavings and slats next to old supplies that the neighborhood contributed.

Bulls Carnaval

El Carnaval del Toro – Traditions

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Carnaval de Toro is originated in the town of Ciudad Rodrigo in Salamanca, and it is considered by many to be the oldest in Spain. There is a document from the time of the Catholic Monarchs dated in 1493, in which Ciudad Rodrigo is criticized for excessive expenses for bullfights. Since then, bullfights, and capeas are the most known activities of the celebration. And of all of them, the most outstanding spectacle is the bull run on horseback, in which horsemen and bulldozers drive the bulls through the countryside of Salamanca until they reach the city. The Carnaval del Toro is the big party in Ciudad Rodrigo: bullfights, capeas, charangas, costume dances … It is the only carnival in the world where the mask and the bull are joined. That’s why it’s a unique and different party.

Parade of El carnaval de Cadiz

Carnaval de Cadiz

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The Carnival of Cadiz is one of the most famous carnivals in Spain, it has been recognized (together with the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and the Carnival of Eagles in Murcia) by the declaration of Fiesta de Interés Turístico Internacional. In Cadiz there is evidence of the carnival since the 16th century. The Carnival of Cádiz took clear influences of the Venetian Carnival and the Genovese. It has its origins in the use of masks, serpentines, and confetti, elements that are assimilated with the Italian Carnival.

El carnaval de Canarias

Carnaval de Tenerife

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The Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival is the most popular holiday in Santa Cruz de Tenerife and the most participative of all those celebrated in the Canaries. In 1980, it was distinguished of being declared officially ” Fiesta de Interés Turístico International, and since 1987, it appears in the book of Guinness Records with the largest audience participation, more than 200 thousand people, in a dance held in open place. It is considered the second most popular and internationally known carnival. The experts say that it was a holiday in which went against pre-established social norms and demands, becoming in the expression of freedom, joy and unbridled. The Carnival survived the religious and monarchical attempts to eradicate the celebration during the Middle Ages, keeping it to this day. It was in the sixteenth century when it arrives to Tenerife from the hands of Spaniards and Portuguese.

La Tamborrada de San Sebastián

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La tamborrada is the event which every January 20th the city celebrates the day of San Sebastian. The origins go back to the year of 1597, when an epidemic plague stroke the city. Many inhabitants went to the Church of San Sebastian el Antiguo praying for their protection. The epidemic finished and in gratitude to the Saint the neighbors made a vow to take San Sebastian as patron of the city and to celebrate annually the event. Each tamborrada must be sponsored by a charity, cultural, sporting, gastronomic or recreational society of the city. Each Tamborrada must be uniformed. Its components are usually divided, having at least one company of drums and another one of barrels. It is also mandatory that the Tamborrada parade is accompanied by a music band.

The Three wizards

Los Reyes Magos – Christmas Traditions

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The most beloved tradition among children during Christmas in Spain is The Three Wise Men. Santa Claus is well known for giving gifts, but the stars in Spain are The Wise Men. They are those who followed a star to meet Jesus and offered him three presents: gold, incense, and myrrh to the newborn in Bethlehem. Their majesties travel in camels so they arrival to Spain is delayed. Once here, they visit all the cities, and listen to the requests of the children. At night the children put their shoes on the door before going to sleep, so the Men know how many children live there. They also put something for them to eat and drink, as well as water and grass for the camels.

El Gaga Tió – Christmas Traditions

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This is a very popular tradition in Cataluña that consists that the youngers of the house hit a log of wood. So simple is this tradition that has been handed down from generation to generation. Before the dinner of Christmas Eve, the Cagada del Tió’ takes place. Children armed with canes, hit the trunk hard while singing a song. Once the children have hit the trunk, the blanket is uncovered and presents appear. The Tio always has the same goal: to bring gifts, which have also varied with time: first they were sweets, nougat or products that were needed to celebrate Christmas. Nowadays the toys constitute the magical advance of the arrival of the 3 Wise Men.

Nougat – Turrón – Christmas is Coming

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Nougat is a sweet dough obtained by cooking honey to which peeled and toasted almonds are incorporated. This paste is subsequently kneaded and is traditionally given a final shape of rectangular tablet or cake. Most scholars locate the origin of the nougat in the Arabian Peninsula; this theory is based on the treatise “De medicinis et cibis semplicibus” of the eleventh century, written by an Arab doctor, in which the turun is spoken. The Arabs brought this dessert to the coasts of the Mediterranean, in particular to Spain and Italy. The Spanish version of the nougat was born in the province of Alicante around the fifteenth century because in the time of Charles V it was already a famous sweet.

La Sardana – Traditions

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This Catalan dance is a symbol of unity and pride in Barcelona. It consists of groups of people that take their hands together and lift them up; they dance giving small steps but precise, turning slowly while the people join to make the circle larger. The Catalan dance is complemented by a “cobla” a small group of musicians that accompany the dance with a selection of wind instruments directed by the “flaviol”, a type of flute, while the tambourine marks the rhythm. The best moment to watch an authentic Sardana is in a festival. The Festival Focs of Sant Joan on June 24th is an example.