Top 10 habits to adopt when you move to Spain
Whether you are living permanently in Spain or on an extended stay, adopting some of their national habits will enhance your enjoyment of this vibrant country.
1. Drink coffee
Spanish people love coffee and drink it at all hours of the day. Here’s a guide to the names of your favourite brews.
- Café con leche is half strong black coffee and half milk.
- A café bombón is espresso with sweetened condensed milk. If you have a sweet tooth, you have to try it!
- A café solo is a small cup of strong, black espresso.
- Café Americano contains the same amount of caffeine as a café solo but with more water, resulting in a milder flavor.
- Café Cortado is a small cup of espresso with just a splash of milk.
- Café con Hielo is iced coffee.
- Carajillo is coffee served with rum, whisky or brandy.
2. Kiss lots
In Spain, people greet each other and say goodbye with a kiss on each cheek. These aren’t really proper kisses at all! People usually touch their right cheeks together and make a kissing sound, then repeat the process on the left side. People don’t do this every morning when they come into work, but if you meet a friend for drinks or are introduced to someone new, the double cheek kiss is given to say hello and goodbye. Women are always greeted this way, but two men shake hands with each other unless they are relatives.
3. Eat Late
Spanish lunch and dinner times are later than you may be accustomed to. It can be hard to find a restaurant with a kitchen open between the hours of 5 and 9 pm. Lunch is normally eaten at two or three in the afternoon, and dinner around ten at night. Lunch is typically a large meal, with a starter, a main dish and dessert. Dinner is normally very light.
4. Love babies
Children are treated like royalty in Spain. If you have small children, you will find that total strangers stop on the street and in restaurants and bars to fuss over them, pinch their cheeks and smother them with kisses. Families take their babies with them everywhere and it is the norm to have them with you in restaurants until very late at night.
5. Fiesta time
Spain is the land of fiestas or festivals. In every city, town and village there is a festival of some kind which gets all the townsfolk out on the streets partying with their neighbours. Even the smallest hamlets celebrate their own fiesta along with the fiesta of their nearest town.
In the region of Murcia the emphasis is on wine with the town of Jumilla hosting the famous wine throwing fiesta along with the more sedate wine tasting fiestas.
Pinoso has its own 10 day fiesta in August and also has a gastronomic fiestas, bonfire fiesta, holy week, tapas routes, etc.
The biggest festivals of international fame are the bullrunning of Pamplona, the fireworks of Las Fallas in Valencia, the mock battles of Moros y Cristianos in Alcoy, Semana Santa in all of Spain and the massive Feria de Abril in Seville.
Image below: Man dressed as traditional character of ancient Carnival ‘Entroido Ribeirao’ wearing mask made of chestnuts, Chantada, Lugo province, Galicia, Spain during a parade in Santiago de Compostela.
6. Talk loudly
Whilst in bars, restaurants or at a family dinner, the way of speaking includes speaking very loudly, lots of gestures, and of course the obligatory swearing. Words like “joder”, “coño” and “mierda” all make their way into the conversations taking place, for sad things, annoying things and things that are funny!
7. Drink wine
Spanish wine is excellent and unlike the British the Spanish rarely drink wine from other countries. In the supermarkets you are likely to be faced with an entire wall of Spanish wine with just one shelf of wine from other areas. Spain is the number one in terms of area covered by vineyards. Around 15.5 % of the world vineyards are in Spain! Many of the Spanish vines are organic and have won global acolades.
8. Taste Tapear
Tapas are not a typical dishes or food, tapas are more a way to eat them. Tapas are small portions, but they can be of any of Spain’s many traditional dishes. The word ‘tapa’ means cover and Tapas originally were slices of cheese or something else used to cover a drink in order to keep flies and mosquitos away! To tapear means to bar-hop, eating a different tapa in each bar as you go.
9. Join in
Spanish people are very sociable and enjoy being members of clubs and associations. Every town and village has clubs you can join, eg Amas de la casa (ladies club), Tercera de edad (pensioners club), town band, sports club, moors and christian club. These clubs arrange dinners, events, trips and holidays and some are supplemented by the local town hall.
10. Savour siesta
A long term tradition and favourite custom in Spain is the siesta. After a long lunch in the hot summer months what could be more pleasant than afternoon nap? It can be frustrating though as many shops still close at lunchtime, usually from 2 pm to 5 pm so you need to plan your purchasing accordingly. We suggest that’s just one more reason to chill out and do as the Spanish do – tranquilo!