If you are planning a trip to Spain then you are going to find yourself in a beautiful country with modern cities, stunning countryside and some of the best beaches in Europe. However, there are a few customs that you may want to prepare yourself for before you arrive in Spain because like all other countries, Spain has its fair share of customs that will, to the outsider, look a little bit odd.
1. Christmas in Catalonia
If you are heading to Catalonia for Christmas then get prepared for some very strange customs indeed. Whereas you may be more used to Father Christmas and nativity scenes back home, in Catalonia get ready to see ‘caganers’ wherever you go. These are, strangely enough, small statues of figures defecating. They are hidden in nativity scenes, and sometimes include models of celebrities.
2. Red Underwear at New Year
New Year is a fantastic time to be in Spain. The festivities are in full swing, and they really know how to party. One slightly odd tradition at this time of year is to wear red underwear (which must have been received as a gift from someone else). La Font de la Figuera is a village that takes this tradition to extremes. The inhabitants here are not content to simply wear red underwear – they also feel the need to strip off their clothes and run through the streets of the village to show everyone.
3. La Tomatina
One of the strangest, and most famous, traditions of all is La Tomatina. This is known all around the world because it is shown on TV screens every year. It takes place in August, and essentially involves offloading tonnes of ripe tomatoes into the streets of Buñol in Valencia, where an almighty tomato fight then occurs.
4. Antzar Eguna
Antzar Eguna is also known as ‘The Day of the Geese’, and is a strange custom that takes place in the village of Lekeitio each year during the San Antolín festival. It essentially involves a dead goose being greased and hung up from a rope over the harbour. Boats then pass by underneath, and young men jump up and try to decapitate the goose while holding onto the rope, while being repeatedly dunked into the water by the spectators. If they fall off the rope their turn is over, and the winner gets to keep the goose.
5. The Running of the Bulls
Perhaps the most famous and oddest custom of all is the Running of the Bulls that takes place in Pamplona each year in July, although smaller events take place in other towns. This terribly dangerous event sees a group of bulls charging through the streets along with a group of young men until they reach the bull-fighting ring. Every year someone gets horribly injured, but it remains one of the most popular events in Spain.
Get Ready for Some Strange Customs
These are just a few of the odd customs that you may encounter during your time in Spain. Try to see as many of these as you can during your time in the country by renting a car with a company like Alamo and traveling to the different regions. Wherever you go, you will encounter customs and traditions that will be very different from back home, and it is these that will make your time in Spain so interesting.