Sociology Index

Social Customs And Traditions In Spain

Social Customs And Traditions

Known among Spain's folkloristical traditions are certainly Flamenco and bullfights. Bullfights you will find indeed throughout the country, the most popular event perhaps being the Running of Bulls during the Sanfermines in Pamplona. Flamenco, on the other hand, is the musical tradition in the country's south, in particular in Andalusia. In April takes place Feria de Abril, in Seville, an entire week of singing and dancing and trying that great Sherry wine, those delicious tasty snacks called Tapas and more Sherry wine.

Another most popular event of religious origin is El Rocio, a traditional pilgimship to the village El Rocio in the province of Huelva, in May. This pilgrimship anyhow is not too solemn and serious. Follow the thousands who each year travel there and have yourself a ball. Other outstanding Fiesta are "Las Fallas de San José" in Valencia, in March, the city becomes the scenery of an enormous party with lots of good mood and fireworks. In San Sebastian during February, La Tamburrada takes place. Madrid has its Fiesta, "San Isidro", in May.

Carnival is popular in all the country, the best is in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, but if you are at the peninsula, Cadiz and Sitges are the places to go.

The festival of San Fermin is by far the best known event taking place in Pamplona. TV-spectators in all the world are surprised, impressed or shocked each year when they watch the spectacle of bulls running through the streets of the town and hundreds of young men, usually dressed in traditional white shirts and red belts, ahead of them. The way through the town leads to the bullring, where in the evening of the same day are celebrated some of the most important bullfights of all the season, with the very best toreros.

Although the Sanfermines of Pamplona are the best known event of that kind, there are similar festivals in several of the villages around: in Tudela from July, 24th to 28th, in Estella from the first Saturday in August, in Tafalla from August, 15th to 20th, and in Sanguesa from September, 11th to 17th.

Ceremonia del Tributo de las tres Vacas takes place in Roncal valley, on July, 13th. A contract from 1375 obligates the inhabitants of the french Baretous valley to pay an annual tribute in form of three cows to the people of Piedra San Martín. The ceremony is executed by the town-mayors, in medieval gowns.

On May, 25th takes place a festival of traditional regional dances, called Baile de la Era, in Estella.

On June, 24th, pilgrims of all the region come together in a cave close to the Hermitage of San Juan de Xar, in Yanci, to wash themselves in the water of its three springs. Illnesses are said to be cured by that in a miraculous way.

Flamenco is a genuine Spanish art, and to be more exact an genuine Southern Spanish art. It exists in three forms: Cante, the song, Baile, the dance, and Guitarra, guitar playing.

The first time Flamenco is reported on in literature is in the "Cartas Marruecas" of Cadalso, in 1774. Its cradle most probably was where, between 1765 and 1860, the first Flamenco-schools were created: Cádiz, Jerez de la Frontera and Triana (Seville).
Early Flamenco seems to have been purely vocal, accompanied only by rhythmical clapping of hands. It was left to dedicated composers, as Julián Arcas, to introduce guitar playing.

Flamenco dance arrived to its climax, being the major attraction for the public of those cafés cantantes. Guitar players featuring the dancers increasingly gained a reputation.

From 1915 on Flamenco shows were organized and performed all over the world. Anyhow, not everybody was enchanted with that development and intellectuals such as Falla organized 1922 in Granada a contest to promote authentical cante jondo.

1955 started a sort of Flamenco Renaissance, the great performer Antonio Mairena being its key figure. Outstanding dancers and soloists soon made their way out of the small tablaos, successors to the early cafés cantantes, to the great theaters and concert houses.
Actual Flamenco frequently shows influences of other kinds of music, as Jazz, Salsa, Bossa Nova, etc. Also Flamenco dance has changed, specially female dancers try to rather showcase their temperament than artistry.
Mass medias have brought Flamenco to the world stage, but deeply it has always been and will remain an intimate kind of music. You have not listened authentical Flamenco if not
Origins and History of Bullfight
Bullfighting is certainly one of the best known, although at the same time most polemical Spanish popular customs.
This Fiesta could not exist without the Toro Bravo, a species of bull of an archaical race that is only conserved in Spain. Formerly this bull's forebears, the primitive urus, were spread out over wide parts of the world. The Bible reports on sacrifices of bulls in honour to the divine justice.

The origins of the Plaza, bullring, probably are not the Roman amphitheaters but the Celt-Iberian temples where those ceremonies were held. In the province of Soria, close to Numancia, one of them is conserved and it is supposed that there bulls were sacrificed to the Gods.
During the middle-ages it was a diversion for the aristocracy to torear on horse's back. That was called suerte de cańas. Francisco Romero was a key-figure in laying the rules for that new sport.
It is an archaic tradition that has survived in this country, just as the Toro Bravo has done.

What a Corrida is about
A Corrida starts with the paseillo, with everybody involved in the bullfight entering the ring and presenting himself to the public. Two Alguacilillos, on horse's back, direct themselves to the presidency and symbolically ask for the keys to the puerta de los toriles. Behind that door there are the bulls. With the door being opened and the first bull entering the ring the spectacle starts.