8 weird Facts about Spain – You won’t believe Number 5!

Every country has it’s own little weird traditions or habits. Since we just left Spain after spending five fantastic months there: here is the Top 8 weird facts about Spain.

Every country has it’s own little weird traditions or habits. Since we just left Spain after spending five fantastic months there: here is the Top 8 weird facts about Spain.

1. One Country. But kinda Eight.

Split SpainWhile the rest of the world knows Spain to be one country, Spain itself sees things a little differently. Originally, the country consisted of eight countries that got forced together over history. This process was called Reconquista.
The original countries, known as Asturias, León, Galicia, Castilla, Navarra, Aragón, Cataluña and Basque Country almost all have their own languages and can’t identify themselves with the modern Spain. Too many differences, people told me. This reflects in the daily news. Cataluña and Basque country being the most insisting.

Funny side fact: Only a couple of weeks ago, Iceland let go of it’s law, that let you kill Basque people legally.

 

2. Caga Tió & Caganer

Caga TíoTalking about Cataluña: It’s been in Barcelona where I came across the most absurd Christmas traditions.

Who needs Santa Claus if you can have Caga Tió (the shitting log)? A friendly twig of wood, growing into a log as you feed it all December long, just to have it poop out your presents. After you beat it with a stick. Naturally, singing.

And what Christmas would be complete without a Caganer figurine taking a dump in the corner? Yes indeed. Catalan culture doesn’t cease to amuse Tourists, visiting Barcelona to have a festive holiday.

 

3. Forget Charles Dickens. Now.

Carlos DickensIt’s widely known, that Spain is not exactly famous for speaking more than their own language(s). This goes so far, that they change the names of famous authors, musicians and even movie and TV characters.

And so, my heart skipped a little beat, when I saw the book cover of ‘Oliver Twist’, naturally written by – wait for it – Carlos Dickens.

U2 became UDOS. And not to forget John Nieve from ‘Game of Thrones’.

The list goes on and on. But My heart bleeds too much to look more into this…

 

4. Green is Red and Red is Green

No, not in the way you would think. They do see the right colours. But one quite negative thing, I noticed about Spain is, that they don’t wait for the traffic light to turn green before they start driving.

ValenciaRunning across the street while the pedestrian’s light switches from green to red can be suicidal. Because cars start to drive, as soon as that happens.

I love Spain, but this little fact really drove me nuts. Especially when people started blowing their horns at me, when I didn’t accelerate like a mad man while I still had red light.

Generally, the Spanish are not big fans of obeying the laws of traffic. The option of indicating the direction you are about to go in, seems widely unknown and keeping the appropriate distance on highways is far too boring, compared with almost pushing the car in front of you.
These things aren’t as mad as in Italy, though, I have to add.

And if you enjoy carousels, you are right in Spain. Roundabouts are everywhere here. The ones in Valencia being the most confusing, I have ever encountered.

 

5. Did you enjoy your meal?

Have some cakeThe Chinese like to eat in a very loud manner, smacking their food away, to show, the pleasure they find in their meals. Spain has adopted a slightly less environmentally (or cleaning lady) friendly tradition to show, their meal has been enjoyable.
It’s common, people drop their napkin to the ground after cleaning their mouth. This behaviour seems to disappear slowly these days, though. One of my friends told me, she had recently stopped doing it, but that she has grown up with the believe it was the most normal thing to do.

While in cities this affects mainly the people cleaning up, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes, when I saw a napkin fly by on the countryside.

 

6. Hey Paco! No, not you!

Talking about the Spanish country side: One person I noticed when I enjoyed my stay in the mountains in the South of Andalucía was Paco.

Spanish Country SidePaco owned several plantations, houses and even one restaurant.

At least that’s what I thought. Actually my hosts were talking about several different people (“What? Oh no, that’s the other Paco…”)
Also very popular is the name Pepe. Not to forget about Javi. But that’s about it.

On the countryside in Spain, everybody seems to have the same freaking three names. I’ve learned, that this is due to the tradition of naming your child after it’s grandfather.
This ultimately led me to one slightly unpleasant thought: “The family stays in the village.”

I might be wrong about this, though…

 

7. Fiesta is not an act, it’s a lifestyle

Name anything that could be celebrated to a Spanish person and you are on a good way to actually create a holiday.

FiestaIf there is a culture that know’s how to celebrate, it’s situated in Spain. In the few months I have been in this country with it’s several different shapes of landscape, I found myself within countless crowds, that have come together to keep Fiesta alive.

And when I talk Fiesta, I don’t mean the occasional party at a club, opening at 2am in the morning (That’s when the party starts), but the highly expensive and dangerous celebrations, that can last for up to three weeks – Las Fallas in Valencia being one of the flagships.

After experiencing it myself I have started to get a feeling why Spain might be in money troubles 😉

 

8. The Spanish LOVE to burn stuff

Last but not least, Las Fallas have led me to this eighth fact. For everybody who hasn’t read my article about Valencia, being on fire, I suggest you do. One part of this three weeks long festival is the practice of burning the so called Fallas – huge, beautifully detailed styrofoam figures.

Las FallasIt’s probably the most widely known Fiesta, burning something. Except for the Fallas, Valencia also feels like it’s in civil war in those three weeks, due to constant firework bombardement.

But it is not the only celebration where fire has high importance. In a small village in the mountains by Granada, the population celebrated San Antoñio with huge piles of burning twigs in their fairly narrow streets. I still don’t understand how the few firefighters (well, actually the ‘Guardia Civil’) could stay so relaxed with those giant flames going up right next to wooden balconies that seemed more antique than your great grandmother’s porcelain set.

At Las Hogueras de San Juan they also burn smaller versions of Las Fallas. After the firefighters put out the fires, it’s tradition to insult them in such a bad manner, that they start shooting water into the crowd.

Except for many other ‘fiestas del fuego’, that I’ve heard of, it’s common practice to burn dry wood in big quantities in Winter. But that’s due to safety issues in Summer. The hot Spanish sun frequently sets entire hillsides on fire, that haven’t been cleared out of their brushwood.

 

Conclusion

Robin Raindropcatcher from About WingsI really hope, I won’t receive sh!tloads of hate mail from the lovely Spanish people after this article. While I surely don’t agree with every tradition when it comes to environmental friendliness or social commitment, so I have definitely enjoyed them and love the Spanish people, including their interesting, funny and – yes – sometimes questionable lifestyles and traditions.

I have enjoyed my stay a lot, made a lot of amazing friends and I hope to be welcomed back without ending up being burned at the stake – See what I did there? 😉

I hope everybody understands my humour and sarcasm in this article.

If you know any Spanish oddities or weird traditions, you are more than welcome to share them with us in the comment area below.

Also, if you enjoyed this article, please share it with your friends and followers!

  • LOL on #3 Robin! I kinda get it though; in native tongue you’ll better get the name, or whatever you’re speaking about. I will say not all translates or converts. As for pooping logs now that sounds kinda funny and bawdy and yes, Spanish, because I’d a few friends from my home state in NJ whose parents migrated from Spain and I was shown certain wacky customs that were pretty darn funny. As for burning, ditto. I’ve seen enough crazy traditions on the news or on other travel blogs.

    Spain would be the first European nation that draws me from the tropics. My wife loved her visit to a few main cities so since we’re share common travel tastes I know I’d dig it. I just can’t leave Bali anytime soon….because the weather is so nice and I love eating a huge, filling, nutritious lunch for 2, for like 5 bucks….and I know I ain’t getting that in Spain lol.

    Fun share Robin and great blog! Well done 🙂

    Ryan

    • I don’t know… Augusto told me after I posted this, that in Spanish mispronounce Katy Perry’s name too. But I don’t mind mispronunciation. That’s alright. Tried and failed. But changing the name of an important author… I don’t know. I don’t understand it. I wouldn’t want my name changed just because people have trouble pronouncing it xD
      Also, if kinda feels like a little whole in education if you think it was Carlos Dickens, who wrote Oliver Twist… Oh well…
      They also made up new names for Prince William and Kate when they married, which properly confused a friend of mine (“Oh my god, two royal weddings at the same time!”) lol.

      I totally envy you for Bali. I might copy you on that some time in the future 😛

      Thanks for the compliments! Rock on! 😀

  • Abdon

    As spanish and valencian guy, I have to say….yes…you are more or less right in all the points you covered…

    There are Zillions of PEPEs and PACOs…mostly in valencia ;).

    And yes,We dont need a lot of reasons to have P-A-R-T-Y (of course, in capital letters 😛 ).

    Well…its really weird but yes…lot of people are really naughty about fast-food meal related things…and use to throw away half the meal…we arent really proud of that, but its a fact :S :S :S.

    About the green and red lights….yes…people here (valencia and lot of other cities)are always in a hurry while driving, its a really bad thing which i hardly understand (but it happens different in madrid and barcelona where the people use to drive better because the police there works really hard about the driving related things with “nice” fines xD xD).You forgot that unexistant yellow(here called “ambar”) light…which didnt have any sense…because cars still moving as it was green light…

    Your tip about CAGANER (from cataluña)mades me laugh a lot….yes….its such a strange thing, but always funny, hahahhaha.

    Yes….you can find pearls like “Carlos dickens” and more spanglish(mixed spanish and english text) related things in old books at some old book markets but, its not easy to find that evil things in Libraries actually ;).

    It was nice to read the article and you still being wellcome mate ;).Big Hugh¡¡

    • Well, I have made the same experience with the green/red light in nearly every other city I’ve been to in Spain… Also Barcelona… long before I even was in Valencia… hm…

      And I’ve heard from Rami, that even Kate’s and Prince William’s names were changed in Spanish newspapers which – in combination with John Nieve – kind of take the argument about this only appearing in old books (which I’ve got to hear a lot because of this article :P) apart…

      It seems many people from Spain can’t deal with my sarcasm in this article and think that most of the things I mentioned were lies and “touristic stereotypes”, which makes me appreciate your comment all the more.
      You know me and seem to know how to deal with my humor 😉

      Thank you for the comment Abdon! Very appreciated! 🙂

  • Gerard

    it is “Caga Tió” and “Catalunya” in Catalan. anyway, great article 🙂

    • Thanks for telling me about the Caga Tió typo!
      When it comes to Catalunya, I have thought about it for quite some time and decided to go with the Spanish version then, since I did the same with all the others as well… Kind of trying to stay on neutral ground ^^°

      I’m happy you enjoyed it. Many Spanish people don’t seem to be able to deal with my sarcasm (looking at some Facebook comments isn’t too nice :P)

      All the more I appreciate your enjoyment 🙂

  • La Kisekage

    As a spanish person I have to tell you that most of these facts are really extrange even for us and some of then a bit “fantastics”
    Napkins on the floor? Where have you been living?

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