Spanish Traditions: What to Expect on the Costa del Sol
Spain has a whole host of traditions that thousands of tourists flock to the Costa del Sol each year to observe. Bullfighting, flamenco and traditional Spanish food are just some of the reasons for people to immerse themselves in Spanish culture and familiarise themselves with their customs, and the most authentic way to learn about Spain and its traditions is to visit it yourself so you can see first-hand the huge variety of cultural activities on display.
Spanish food is varied and based on fresh food available locally. Seafood, meat and vegetables feature heavily, with dishes such as paella and tapas being among the most famous types of dish. Paella is generally served in a giant bowl, from which the entire table can serve itself. It is based on rice, and normally contains some combination of prawns, mussels, chicken and chorizo, along with tomatoes and peppers. It promotes communal eating as it’s all about sharing and socialising. Tapas are small plates containing miniature portions of lots of types of dish, often consisting of foods such as sliced pork belly, olives, Spanish cheeses such as manchego and squid, often in a sauce. Popular drinks in Spain are the local wines, port and sherry from the Jerez region.
Bullfighting is a long-standing Spanish tradition, and lots of tourists enjoy going along to witness one of these fights. A matador is placed into the arena with a bull, and the matador then waves a piece of red fabric to encourage the bull to charge at him before he jumps out of the way at the last second. If everything goes as it should, the matador will ‘defeat’ the bull, generally by impaling it on a spear. Bullfighting is one of the most dangerous sports, and many tourists find it an exhilarating event to watch.
Flamenco is one of Spain’s best-known to traditions, but what many people don’t realise is that flamenco refers to the type of music rather than the dancing aspect. That is, flamenco often involves dancing, but flamenco itself is the guitar-based, rhythmical music. Strictly speaking, flamenco should be spontaneous in nature, but nevertheless, many organised flamenco shows take place every single day in Spain in bars, restaurants, plazas or in dedicated flamenco venues.
The siesta is often considered commonplace in Spain, but in reality it is becoming less and less common as modern schedules take over. Siestas were originally taken in the hot early afternoon when workplace productivity slumped in the heat to allow Spaniards to recharge their batteries in the midday sun, before returning to work when temperatures have dropped. However, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find the time nowadays to take a siesta. Regardless, Spaniards are known for their love of long, leisurely lunches which play a similar role.
Festivals play an important role in Spain, as it gives communities a chance to come together and celebrate, whether it’s a religious event or simply an excuse to throw a party. The love of celebrating and community spirit is built into the Spanish way of life, and festivals take place all over the country. Easter is a particularly good time to visit Spain, with Spanish tradition at its peak. In the Costa del Sol, for instance, each area celebrates slightly differently, from hillside processions in Antequera’s Correr la Vega event to the street performance and religion feast of Igualeja, so it’s worth the journey if you want to witness the unique celebrations of each town.
It’s all very well reading about its traditions, but hopefully this post has inspired you to experience the real thing in Spain itself!