Spanish Culture

Other Considerations

  • Consider that some Spaniards may have different levels of sensitivity regarding gender, race and ethnicity. People commonly describe one another by their physical attributes. It is normal to call girls ‘beautiful princesses’ or refer to a convenience store as a ‘chino’ because an Asian immigrant owns it.
  • Spaniards tend to call out to one another a lot, perhaps complimenting passersby or joking about friends. It is common for Spanish men to make comments (piropos) on women’s beauty when they see them – for example, calling them ‘princess’ or ‘gorgeous’. This is not necessarily a sexual advance and is common across all ages. For example, it is normal to see a man offer a very kind compliment about his grandmother’s looks every time he sees her. Nevertheless, the acceptability of these comments varies depending on the person.
  • Bullfighting (la corrida) is considered an art rather than a sport by its Spanish fans. They often emphasise the technique involved. It may also be seen as a representation of national identity; the species of bull used (toro bravo) is only found in Spain. Bullfighting remains a controversial matter in Spain. In 2011, the Catalonian parliament voted to ban bullfighting in the region. A national court overturned this decision. Bulls are also part of many other traditional local festivities: e.g. ‘encierro’ (bull runs) and ‘toro embolado’ (material is attached to a bull’s horns and set on fire in an evening event).
  • It is believed to be bad luck to plan anything on Tuesday the 13th (martes trece). This superstition is similar to the omen of Friday the 13th in the English-speaking West.
  • Many Spanish enjoy watching and/or playing football (soccer). The sport can often evoke intense emotions and passion. Football is usually a good point of conversation and a great way to bond with your Spanish counterpart.
  • Cigarette smoking is a common habit in Spain.
  • Flamenco is a cultural dance whereby men and women perform to rhythmical clapping of hands (toque de palmas), guitar and singing. While this has become very popular and is now performed in great arenas, it is still common to see it in small ‘tablaos’ (flamenco clubs) around Spain.
  • Muslim and other migrant populations have sometimes been subject to exclusion due to differences between their cultures and the ‘payo’ (majority) culture of Spain. There was once a significant stigma surrounding the Moors to the point that people would make a point of emphasising their Spanish-ness through their last names. This reflects how there is a certain amount of pride associated with being Spanish. However, one is unlikely to encounter these attitudes in modern-day Spain.
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