Guide To Spain

The Ultimate Guide to Spanish Culture

Written by Martha Lott
Written by Martha Lott
2nd May 2018 (Last updated on Thursday 3rd May 2018)

Spain is famous for its culture, from the historical and architectural through the very way in which the Spanish people live their lives. In this guide Compare My Move gives you an overview of the culture in Spain, including comparing it to that in the UK, covering some common stereotypes, what you can do to fit in whilst in the country.

Ahead of booking your house removals to Spain, it's worth learning about the culture of country before observing and experiencing it. Plus, it's worth knowing if Spanish culture appeals to your natural tendencies, so let's explore Spanish culture.

Cultural Differences Between Spain and the UK

When comparing the cultural differences between Spain and the UK there are some key areas that really stand out.

Eating in Spain

Eating in Spain takes a very different approach to in the UK. For example, the timing of meals differs slightly with lunch in the UK usually taking place between noon and 1pm, in contrast in Spain they usually eat their lunch slightly later between 2pm and 3pm. In Spain, Lunch is also usually considered the main meal, sometimes made up of 6 courses in total.

As lunch makes up the bulk of eating for the Spanish, their evening meal tends to be a lot lighter and is usually served at around 9pm in the evening. This is much later than it is usually eaten in the UK, where the evening meal is often much more substantial as the main meal.

Drinking in Spain

Drinking in England is commonly considered as a popular past time. Usually on the weekend, evenings will start with drinks with dinner before moving onto bars and nightclubs where a large amount of alcohol will be consumed. This differs in many ways to the Spanish drinking culture where alcohol is usually just consumed with meals.

Types of alcoholic drink also vary widely between the two. In the UK a number of drinks are commonly consumed including wine, beer and various spirits. Whereas in Spain wine is the most commonly consumed alcoholic beverage, however they do also consume beers and spirits on occasion.

Sleeping in Spain 

One of, if not THE, most famous parts of Spanish culture is that of taking a Siesta. This is a nap that is usually taken just after lunch before going back to work. This is a much admired cultural difference, although it is much more common in hot countries than in cooler ones like the UK.

Family in Spain

Although family is certainly important in both Spain and in the UK, the way in which it is approached is certainly different in the two countries. For example, in the UK grown up families that live apart will often keep in touch sporadically, usually on a weekly or bi-weekly basis and will often only see each other once a month. On the other hand Spanish families tend to be a lot more consistent in their contact, for example they will usually talk every day and see each other as often as possible.

Debunking Common Spanish Stereotypes

People from the UK have been subjected to a number of over the top, unfounded and untrue stereotypes. So, it stands to reason that other countries such as Spain are also subjected to these. In this section, we cover some of the common Spanish stereotypes and explore the truth in them.

The Spanish Are Too Laid Back

The relaxed way of life that the Spanish people live is often mistaken for laziness. For example, the fact that they traditionally take a Siesta in the middle of the day and generally take a slower approach to work allows for this stereotype to be made. However, this is actually unfounded, the Spanish are certainly not lazy and actually work some of the longest hours in Europe.

And who can blame them for taking a relaxed approach to work in such a hot climate?

The Spanish Do Everything Late

As we have found earlier in this article, the Spaniards certainly do work through their day much later than us Brits. For example, with lunch taking place between 2pm and 3pm. and dinner usually taking place at around 9pm their day usually starts and finishes a lot later than ours. This is certainly a true stereotype.

Spain is Loud

Ever walked past a bar in Spain and winced at the sheer volume of those within it? This is certainly a large part of Spanish culture and often puts people off going into bars as they cannot stand the noise.

In fact, the World Health Organisation highlights Spain as the second noisiest country in the world after Japan.  

How to Be Spanish

As with any country you may visit or move to, there are two big things you can do to make sure that you fit in. Firstly, undertaking some research such as reading this guide puts you in a good position to understand ‘how things are done’ in the country. You may use the internet to search for areas that you are specifically concerned about or interested in or even look to get in touch with a friendly Spaniard who could help you understand the culture better.

Observation is also a very powerful tool. Once you are in Spain you may spend some time simply observing others and thinking through how you may be able to fit in better with your surroundings. Talking to Spaniards and asking them why they do things the way they do will also give you a much deeper understanding.

Differing Cultures in Spain

Much like we see different cultures in the UK for example, cultural differences between the North and the South, cities and the countryside. These are also widely apparent in Spain, below we give some of the key areas in Spain and how culture differs in each.

Catalonia

The Catalonia region is in the north-eastern corner of Spain. There is much debate over whether the region should be independent of Spanish rule, although it is still currently recognised as part of Spain.

Much of the culture is the same as the rest of the country. However, they actually have their own language ‘Catalan’ which is the joint official language with Spanish. The region also has a number of fun unique traditions such as building human towers called ‘castells’, which was given UNESCO World Heritage status in 2010.

Basque Country

The ‘Basque Country’ describes the area that crosses over between Spain and France in which the Basque people live. Due to this fact, the area sees a number unique cultural differences to the rest of Spain. The area does have its own language, however, this has receded in popularity as French and Spanish take over as the main spoken languages in the area.

Folklore and religion play a big part in their culture with a number of unique festivals being held in the area. This biggest of which is Semana Grande a week-long festival held in August.


Compare My Move in Spain

We hope this article has covered everything you need to know about Spanish culture, including the main differences and similarities between Spain and the UK. When you're ready, remember to use Compare My Move to help save you time and money on your international removals. Just fill in a quick and easy form, and get connected with up to 6 local removal companies to get safely to your new home in Spain. Our guide to Moving to Spain from the UK covers all the issues you need to consider including living, working and driving in Spain. 

For further reading, check out our guide to How to Buy a House in Spain, and What Are Homes Like in Spain.

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