One of the few stereotypes you might have heard about Spain before coming to study abroad to Seville is that people in Spain are always on vacations and never work. This isn’t quite true, although I should say we have 12 paid holiday days, in addition to the legal 22 paid vacation days every worker is allowed to have.
Concerning national holidays, you might already know you’re going to have a long weekend (in Spain we call it puente) this week, but what is it about?
October 12 is the National Day in Spain, also called Día de la Hispanidad or Fiestas del Pilar. It’s also celebrated in other Hispanic countries, as it’s the day Christopher Columbus (or Cristobal Colón, as we call him in Spanish) set foot on the Americas for the first time. To commemorate this day, the King of Spain raises the Spanish National Flag, followed by a military parade in Madrid. In fact, Zaragoza is the place where a big celebration is made out of it, having into account the Virgen del Pilar (Virgin of the Pillar) is their patron saint. However, in the rest of the country, most people show no excitement about this celebration, and use these holidays to travel, visit the family, or just relax.
As well as that, the weekend we’ll spend in Morocco (October 30-November 2) will coincide with another puente (long weekend), since November 1 is the Día de Todos los Santos (All Saints’ Day). This day is just for families to remember their friends and relatives that are already gone. Christian families celebrate this day by going to church and going to the cemetery to put some fresh flowers by their relatives’ graves.
In addition to this, before the Día de Todos los Santos we celebrate Halloween, as you could have imagined. Although we didn’t use to celebrate Halloween some years ago, now is getting more and more popular. It isn’t exactly the same as in the States and there are some big differences regarding customs, decoration, parties, cakes, etc. For example, you dress up as a witch or as a vampire to go to a Halloween-themed party and you won’t find houses and buildings decorated with pumpkins or spider’s web.
And last but not least, before Christmas Holidays, we have two more national days! December 6 is the Día de la Constitución Española, the day our current constitution was enacted back in 1978, right after the 36-year-long Dictadura franquista (Franco’s dictatorship) got to an end. On the other hand, December 8 is the Día de la Inmaculada Concepción, patron saint of the Spanish Marine Corps or just Infantería Española. Since these two dates are so close to each other, there are usually some long holidays. There is a full agenda of events and shows to celebrate all along this puente in Sevilla too, like the seises, the tuna concerts, etc. If you’re wondering what those things are, the seises are a group of ten children who dance and play music in front of the Cathedral. This event only takes place three times all over the year and it goes a long way back to the XVII century. Regarding the tuna concerts, it’s not about the tuna fish making music, but a tuna in Spanish is a musical group composed by university students.
This is all regarding the fall semester’s holidays. If you want to know more about the Spanish and Andalusian holidays during the spring semester, you’ll just have to let us know!