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Public Holidays in Spain - festivals, celebrations and fiestas

Not only are Spanish people blessed with a large number of National Holidays, there are also numerous holidays for each region, city and town throughout the whole of Spain. Because of this, it is easy to find yourself in the middle of a Spanish celebration while here on holiday. Spanish people love to party and are also very accommodating to visitors to their lovely country. Grab yourself a drink and join in with the fun. Iím sure you wonít be disappointed.

NEW YEARíS DAY (January 1st)
New Yearís Day is a public holiday celebrated throughout Spain to welcome in the beginning of a New Year. Each Spanish town and city throughout the country will have some festival arranged in the main square, typically the Plaza Mayor, often accompanied with music and fireworks. Many Spanish people celebrate the passing of the old year by eating 12 grapes, one for each month of the year, during each ring of the twelve bell tolls as the New Year approaches. This is considered to bring good luck, but only if all twelve grapes are eaten in time. Not as easy as it sounds, as many grapes are bought in a small glass flute, with the very last one squashed and difficult to dislodge at the bottom.

Christmas for children in Spain falls on the 6th of January, twelve days after Christmas Day, with the coming of the Three Kings. Children place their socks outside for the Kings to deliver them presents, but only if they have been good. Naughty children have the fear of finding black coal in their socks instead of presents. On the eve of January 6th, it is tradition for three men to dress as the Kings and ride around the town in a colourful procession, scattering sweets to all the children who eagerly follow.

Semana Santa is a very religious time for many people in Spain and in all the cities both large and small, processions of hooded penitents carrying religious icons of Jesus and Mary held high, are paraded solemnly throughout the streets. It is a truly emotional and colourful experience for the participants and the many thousands of people who come to watch the procession well into the night.
Processions begin on Palm Sunday and will last until Easter Sunday. Processions in the main towns of all regions of Spain are huge and excel in grandeur. Because this is a deeply religious experience for many Spanish people, fireworks and excessive drinking is frowned upon.

LABOUR DAY (March 1st)
Dia del Trabajo is celebrated as a national holiday throughout Spain.

April is the month of exuberant ferias in Andalucia, with Seville holding what is considered to be the biggest and best in Spain. The festivals last up to two weeks with colourful processions held in traditional costume, bullfights, firework displays, flamenco shows and partying well into the early hours.

SAN JUAN (June 24th)
San Juan is celebrated throughout Spain and particularly in the costal regions with bonfires on the beaches that last all night on the 23rd. It is tradition to rush into the sea at midnight to wash away your sins, symbolising the baptism of Saint John the Baptist. It is the one time when camping is allowed on many beaches, and celebrations typically last all weekend with loud music, fireworks and a lot of noise.

SAN ISIDRO (May / June)
Each city celebrates this fantastic festival differently. Typical Spanish events will involve processions, bullfights, concerts, funfairs and spectacular processions of horses and decorated carts throughout the city. Traditional costumes are normally worn with sweets and local drinks handed out to the many locals and tourists who follow the procession and join in the merriment. This is a great party atmosphere that lasts 2-3 days. In Nerja on the Costa del Sol, the procession leaves the centre of the town and heads towards the famous Nerja Caves, one of the most visited holiday attractions in Spain.

Many large cities hold magnificent processions to celebrate the body of Christ in the holy water by bearing the consecrated host through the streets. This is a solemn and religious festival of great importance to many Spanish people.

ASUNCION (August 15th)
Catholics observe this feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, celebrating Mary's body being taken to Heaven after her death.

Festival held in the city of Malaga on the Costa del Sol. The festival lasts 10 days and includes a huge number of fairground rides, processions of horses, stalls selling food and wine, and spectacular firework displays on the first and final night.

ALL SAINTS DAY (November 1st)
Relatives spend the day at the graves of their loved ones, to remember them, and adorn them with beautiful flowers.

National holiday throughout Spain in commemoration of the 6th December 1978 when the Spanish people voted in a national referendum to approve the draft constitution, thus providing the way forward for the creation of a democratic system in Spain.

On the Roman Catholic Church calendar of holy days, today is celebrated as a holy day of obligation, commemorating the Immaculate Conception of Mary.

CHRISTMAS DAY (December 25th)
Christmas Day is a national holiday in Spain, but there is not the huge commercial occasion here as celebrated in other western cities. Children may receive a small gift on Christmas Eve (Nochebuena), as the day for presents is 6th January, Epiphany, when the Three Kings come bearing gifts.

Similar to April Fools Day that falls on April 1st in England, this is an opportunity for people to play practical jokes on friends and generally get away with doing silly things.

If a public holiday falls on a Tuesday or Thursday, it is known as a Bridge because many Spanish people like to take either the Monday or Friday off to give a long weekend. Public holidays falling on both Tuesday and Thursday, is commonly known as an Aqueduct, bridging both weekends together. Obviously this is a great opportunity to take all the days off, leaving the whole week free to party. No wonder Spanish people love to celebrate.

About the Author: Steve Greenwood has lived in Spain for 3 years and has enjoyed participating in many of the Spanish holiday festivals, sometimes reluctantly. You are invited to visit Holiday apartments for rent in Spain for information on Spanish attractions, holidays, festivals and celebrations. Ideal Rentals For You ( offers information on all the regions of Spain including holiday activities, things to do and interesting places to visit.

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