When living in Spain, it’s good to know the ways of the locals to be able to feel like you fit in with the crowd. Here’s a couple of Spain’s most common customs to get you started:
Two kisses – Even for expats who have lived here for years, this one can still be confusing. What most people fail to remember, is that the general rule when greeting or leaving someone in Spain is to give one kiss to each cheek – first their left and then their right. Unlike the British formal greeting, the Spanish take a more personal approach, so don’t feel uncomfortable when someone hits your handshake with a hug and two ‘besos’!
Here’s hoping you’re not an early sleeper, as most Spanish families will tuck into dinner at around 10-11pm at night! With a late lunch and a snack in the afternoon, in Spain it’s completely normal to eat dinner way after the sun sets. With late meals like this, don’t be surprised to see children awake and running around until the early hours when you’re out for dinner in town! Especially in the heat of Summer, most families, even those with young children, won’t settle down until about 1-2am while the parents chatter at the dinner table with a jug of sangria!
The siesta is a Spanish tradition that we are all familiar with. What is usually overlooked, however, is the fact that the siesta isn’t actually used for sleeping. Between 2pm and 5pm, most shops will shut for a rest so that the workers can go home, have lunch and use the time how they please. Despite common assumptions, this time isn’t usually used for the Spaniards to go home and have a mid-day nap! Although, with the strong summer sun, it’s definitely tempting to take a break from the heat and have a snooze on a near by bench, which is something that the older generations enjoy to do for a few hours in the afternoon!
Moving on to the night scene, you probably won’t find a club that shuts before 6am so maybe you should take that siesta for a nap after all! The Spanish love to party, so it’s no surprise to find that while the bars are open until 1am, the clubs only open at around 1am, with the flashing lights and ‘reggaeton’ music playing until dawn! And, the drinks in Spain are significantly cheaper than most other countries, with a substantial bottle of wine being sold for as cheap as €3 and spirit mixers for as cheap as €4.
Forget Friday 13th, in Spain – it’s Tuesday the 13th, so save your broken mirror and black cat worries for another day! The Spanish believe that this day is full of bad luck and there is even a common phrase for cancelling any important events on this date to avoid any damage, “ni te cases,ni te embarques” which means “don’t get married, don’t embark!”(on a trip or a journey).
Now you’re up to speed, you’re ready to hit the towns with a good grasp of typical Spanish behavior. Don’t forget, when you’re greeting your Spanish friends, the two kisses to the cheek are always left and then right!