Spanish traditions and customs

The influence of Spain‘s traditions and culture can be found around the world, but you get to see it in its purest form on your Spanish holiday this year.

With such a complex history, you might want to brush up on some basics below for an inside view of the customs and traditions that’ll surround you during your visit.

Getting personal

Spain, like its Mediterranean cousins Italy and Portugal, has a warmer approach to personal space than the UK.

Physical contact is seen as a sign of respect, so if your Spanish conversation partner touches your elbow to emphasise a point, it’s nothing to feel uneasy about. If anything, it just shows you’re making a good impression.

Similarly, when meeting someone of the opposite gender, an air kiss is the expected gesture, while a handshake also works well – it’s a little more formal. Even when meeting for the first time, Spanish people may give you an air kiss.

Love that late lunch

A tradition that is also observed in countries descended from Spanish origin, such as Mexico, is the love of lunch. The afternoon meal, regarded as the biggest and most important of the day, tends to be different than what you’re used to at home.

Eaten late, generally anywhere between 1pm and 4pm, you’ll consume huge portions and rich flavours.

This late lunch coincides with another Spanish tradition – the siesta. This midday to mid-afternoon break means you have plenty of time for a large meal, as shops close and office workers leave buildings until late afternoon to enjoy a few hours of rest in the heat of the day.

While other cultures consider dinner the largest meal of the day, the Spanish treat it as a way to round off an evening. In fact, you’re most likely to see Spanish families at restaurant tables for dinner around 9 or 10pm.

Bars and nightlife