Spanish Culture: Customs, Facts & Food

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Wendy A. Garland

Wendy has a Ph.D. in Adult Education and a Master's Degree in Business Management. She has 10 years experience working in higher education.

The culture of Spain is rich and colorful with unique types of food and drink, music and dance, and fashion trends. Explore the customs, discover the cuisine, and learn facts and trivia about Spanish culture. Updated: 11/23/2021

Introduction to Spanish Culture

Spanish culture is rich and complex. With a strong Roman heritage, Spain has been influenced by wars and invasions, as well as its climate and geography. It is known for literature, architecture, music, art, and, of course, food!

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  • 0:00 Introduction to…
  • 0:20 Spanish Customs and Traditions
  • 1:57 Spanish Facts and Trivia
  • 2:48 Spanish Food and Drinks
  • 4:44 Lesson Summary
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Spanish Customs and Traditions

When you think of Spain, you can't help but think of la siesta! A siesta is traditionally a short nap in the afternoon, which originated from taking a break away from working in the hot midday sun. Rarely do people actually nap anymore, but many smaller towns in Spain still close their businesses for a long afternoon break. Because lunch is the main meal of the day, Spaniards typically rest and socialize before returning to finish their day of work.

Images of Spain also wouldn't be complete without bullfighting! In Spain, it's called corrida de toros, literally translated 'running of the bulls.' The most famous is held in Pamplona, where the bulls run down the streets of the city and are then herded into a bullring. There, the Matador, the top bullfighter, waves a big red cloth called a muleta to attract the bull. The bull runs and charges the muleta while the Matador hides the espada, or killing sword, underneath. After the Matador has proven his courage, he kills the bull with the espada!

The flamenco is a popular genre of art which includes music and dance. Originated from the Andalusia region of the Romani gypsies, it's very powerful and full of emotion. In the highly technical baile, or dance, the couple lock eyes and circle each other passionately while they stomp, clap, and snap to the rhythm of the music. The music mainly comes from guitars, but also includes a dry stick, called a palo seco, which is beat on the floor to keep time.

Spanish Facts and Trivia

There are many things about Spain that make it a unique place. Did you know that the Spanish national anthem, Marcha Real, or the 'Royal March,' doesn't have any words? Over the years, there have been lyrics written, but officially it's music only.

Perhaps you want to visit the center of the country. Located in the capital city of Madrid, the Puerta del Sol plaza, also called the 'Gate of the Sun' is the physical center of Spain. It is literally listed as km 0 of the radial network of Spanish roads.

Have you heard of Don Quixote? It is a famous book written in 1605 by Spanish author Miguel Cervantes. Although a fictional tale about a knight, Don Quixote and his squire, Sancho Panza are considered national heroes in Spain. There are many statues made to celebrate them.

Spanish Food and Drinks

There are so many delicious Spanish foods. Let's eat our way through Spain in a day!

A delicious breakfast might include churros. Churros are a fried-dough pastry, although sometimes they are made from mashed potatoes. Sprinkled with sugar or icing, they can be served as a snack or even for breakfast. Dip them in your favorite hot drink, such as café con leche, which is simply coffee with milk. Yum!

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