12 October 2013
Spain has at least 10 national holidays. On these days, businesses and shops tend to either close half day or not open at all, if they fall during the middle of the week.
Below is details of Spain’s national holidays, and what to expect during the festivities:
1 January - New Year’s Day (Año Nuevo)
This is a big festival in Spain starting from New Year’s eve (nochevieja) when families stay at home, and on the stroke of midnight it is traditional to eat 12 grapes, one on each stroke of the clock to bring good luck for the New Year. Afterwards everyone usually goes out to street parties amid festive music and fireworks.
6 January – Epiphany - El Día de los Reyes (The Day of the Kings)
This festival is more for the children, as this is the day when they get their presents. Celebrations start on the eve of the 5 January, when the three kings lead a procession through the streets, throwing sweets to the children.
March/April – Good Friday (Viernes Santo)
Spain is especially renowned for its Holy Week traditions or Semana Santa. During the whole of Semana Santa, street processions are organised in most Spanish towns each evening, from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday. A common feature of the participants in the processions is the wearing of the penitential robes, depicting the Nazareños, people from Nazareth. This garment consists in a tunic, a hood with conical tip used to conceal the face of the wearer, and sometimes a cloak.
1 May – Labour Day (Dia del trabajador)
This day to recognize the workers, in Spain this is a national holiday with everything closed.
15 August - Assumption of the Virgin (Asunción de la Virgen)
This is one of Spain’s biggest religious festivals, which celebrates the day that God assumed the Virgin Mary into Heaven following her death, according to popular Christian belief. The festivities begin from 11 until 15 August with processions of floats with the picture and statues of the Virgin through the streets.
12 October - National Day (Fiesta Nacional de España)
The day is celebrated to commemorate the arrival of Columbus in Americas in 1906. It is also celebrated as the day of the Armed Forces in Spain, celebrated each year with a military parade in Madrid.
1 November - All Saints' Day (Fiesta de Todos los Santos)
On this day the Spanish remember the dead, where families visit the graves of their loved one and pay respects by bringing flowers and candles.
6 December - Constitution Day (Día de la Constitución)
This national holiday marks the anniversary a referendum held in Spain on December 6, 1978, wherein the Spanish people approved the new constitution. This was an important step in Spain's transition to becoming a constitutional monarchy and democracy. It also ushers in the holiday celebrations for the whole month.
8 December - Immaculate Conception (La inmaculada)
This religious festival honours the Virgin Mary’s “immaculate conception.” Many Christians, particularly of the Catholic faith, attend special church services for this occasion.
25 December - Christmas Day (Navidad)
Celebrations start on Christmas Eve (Nochebuena) with the family gathering for a dinner. At this time of year it is traditional to eat a sweet called turrón, a nougat made of toasted sweet almonds. The children may receive a small present but traditional gift-giving is done on Epiphany - El Día de los Reyes. On Christmas Day, the time is usually spent quietly.